Excuse me

November 26, 2007

Cafe, nose in a novel, 7:00am, caffeine stirring the slow blood. Reading Basho, his long walk to the north country becoming less epic and tasting more like necessity. I take a gentle sip of the the black and I notice a shadow on the floor. Someone’s making their way to my table. Excuse me, sir a little voice says. I don’t acknowledge the greeting. Probably looking for change. Again: Excuse me? Shade of indignity in that one. I close my book and look up, take another pull from my cup. She’s a short brun, nice eyebrows, big rock on her finger. “Sorry, yeah, hello” from me. That’s ok, she smiles. Holds a 3-inch square of paper in her hand. “Do you know how to get to college plaza,” she asks. I speak plainly and graciously, my voice slightly roughened from the black. I give her concise directions and even some parking advice. She smiles, says thanks, folds the square away. I gulp the rest of my brew and gather my stuff. Out the door to the clamour of the day. Caffeine behind my lids, a few dozen members of the working herd out here in their flats and woolen scarves. Car after car, bus after bus, everyone looking for a place. Jacket zipper broken, headphones on. Convenience store lights spill into the curb lane. Someone hits the crosswalk button.

Vignette #240

Cars crossing the high level, Jan 2007

Cars crossing the high level, Jan 2007

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StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.

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The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?

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