After the ginch, on go the red Stanfield’s. The trap door sometimes needs adjusting and I really should iron the button placket so it sits flat and doesn’t accent my modest spare tire. Then the denims and the Smartwool socks. Finally, I haul a sweater from the bottom drawer. It’s almost always too warm for the Nepalese washed wool. Just about right for the blue acrylic henley, though. On. Tea, toast, boots. Watchcap gets a special minute or two, sacred as it is. Buspass at the ready. Snap the door and burn it. Someone didn’t shovel the walk last night. Trudge, snow on leather, polyurethane soles hardening in the cool. Guy across the street is out dusting his walk. Bastard’s always trying to show me up.
Corner of Whyte and 105. Colder than a ten-year gone phone call. Wipe the nose on my mitt. Guy with the nice briefcase and tassel loafers gives me a nod, like I’m ‘sposed to recognize him. Let me be man, it’s Monday. The week doesn’t get its underwear on ‘till Wednesday. Catch me then or the next day and maybe we’ll exchange nods. Till then, don’t waste it. Cafe’s about ten minutes away. The 106 is dragging its ass this AM. Should’ve been here five minutes ago. Shiver some more, roll the hands into fists in the mitts. Notice the ice between my eyes. Saxophone runs through my head as I watch my hungry breath climb the streetpoles. Stomp the boots for warmth, curse when the soles beat like rocks – solid. With any luck I’ll get my usual seat on the rig and catch a few winks before hitting the station. Forecast said minus twenty. Boots say a dip below twenty-five. Hands say thirty below. Watchcap says minus thirteen – dozen at best. Chin into collar. Check the time.
100 Avenue, Grande Prairie Alberta, September 2007
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.
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?