Ah, Spring…

February 13, 2006

It doesn’t take much to wake up rusty ‘ol E-Town, does it? A couple days of 8° weather and suddenly O’Byrne’s patio is rockin’, the short skirts and the boob tops are out in full bubbleheaded force, the smokers have ceased muttering obscenities under their breath and seem to be enjoying their forced exile to the sidewalks and alleys, the patio cafes are hoppin’ with the hip and the lovely, the dog parks are brimming with golden retrievers named Jewel and bulldogs named Benson, the convertibles are cruising and bass booming, the Hogs are polluting the public airspace with their ungodly deepthroated roar, and the Avenue sidewalks are packed and jammed like it was a bright day in May.

One thing about me and my Edmonton brethren: We are finely attuned to the weather. The very minute that the thermometer hops above zero, out come the flip flops and shorts, skirts and clogs, white khakis and Wayfarers, cutoffs and tank tops. I always have to chuckle at the knuckleheads wearing Birkenstocks with no socks in two degree weather, and I always throw out a muffled guffaw when I see gaggles of young women shivering in their lingerie outerwear outside the clubs, cigarettes dangling from quivering fingers. I firmly believe that to some, the air temperature is simply inconsequential. No matter how cold it is, I always see someone wearing sandals or shorts or a tee shirt. About three years ago, on a minus seventeen day, I saw a seventy year-old man jogging in the river valley wearing no shirt. Now that guy had agates. He was a crazy fucker, but to this day I hold a large amount of respect and admiration for that man simply for pushing the envelope as far as he could.

This behaviour is understandable; even condonable. After all, we live in a place where winter typically runs from October to March with at least a week of spirit-crushing -30° weather. We get blazing, dry summers that, at times, creep into the mid 30’s. This adds up to a (roughly) sixty degree temperature swing over the course of twelve months. It’s no wonder we jump at the chance to dust off the flip flops and swill some suds on a patio. Hell, even I went for a Sunday walk in nothing but a long sleeved tee shirt (and pantaloons of course). Gorgeous, I tell ya.

I don’t have to explain that this amazingly mild weather, while welcome from the perspective of personal comfort, could be the kiss of death for our farmers. Without a solid snowfall, like the one that blasted the East coast over the weekend, we will see some serious drought. That is to say nothing of the added danger of wildfires. Of course there is literally nothing that can be done about it, short of hoping and praying for a good dump of the lovely white.

Before anyone forwards the specious idea that what we are experiencing is the direct result of human generated climate change, check the forecast. Like all things in life, this spring-like air is destined to crash and die screaming by Thursday of this week. Doesn’t look like any serious amounts of snow are in the mail, but holy snappin’ arseholes! -19° by then! Wowza! I’d almost forgotten what that shit feels like. Looks like it’s time to put away the Tevas, dust off the parka and the Stanfields longjohns and bundle up for some good ‘ol fashioned, life-affirming Alberta coldness. Just remember: We’re stoic heroes for living through this shit. That’s what I tell myself, anyways.

Vignette #35

5 reader comments (closed)


Mark Kozub

Congrats. You win an award of some kind (no money, just an award) for actually making WEATHER TALK interesting!
Personally, I think ALL of your Street Rag entries from now on should all be about weather… but don’t make them INTERESTING, please. It’s too much of a paradigm shift for people. Suddenly small talk would become fascinating too.
Stop! Your literary revolution will change this world too quickly. What’s next? Eloquent water cooler conversation?
SINCERELY, this is some great writing.


Feb 13, 2006 • 13:54



What? No prize money? Cheap bastards! That’s the only reason I write this silly ‘lil blog! The fame is great and all, but it’s the MONEY that keeps it all going.

Feb 13, 2006 • 15:11



Dude, I have seen that same old shirtless guy jogging in the most nipple biting weather. It was an old Asain man wearing no shirt yet for some reason he always wears really big gloves. He wants to keep his hands warm but still no shirt. I always look at this man with amazement whenever I see him. Curious, is this the same guy you are referring to?

By the way, the weather has been a treat this winter. Shit, I couldn’t tell you how many days I was working outside in December/January with a T-shirt on and no jacket. You just dont normally do that ‘round these parts. Unless you are crazy (like our river valley jogger friend)

Feb 13, 2006 • 22:07



This is my 42nd winter in this great city and I’ve seen it all. From freezing my bag off as a kid playing road hockey in Parkallen to plus 8 on Christmas Day.

You take what Mother Nature gives you and you say thanks.

From snow as high as the eavesthrough’s to a windstorm in Mid february, I can’t think of a better place to live.

This is my city and I’m proud of it. For the good and the bad. For the kindheartedness of strangers, and the uglyness we see on the news.

From playing in the woods under the High Level Bridge, to my first kiss at the school.

Yea, I’ve seen it all

Feb 13, 2006 • 22:37



@P-Dog: Y’know, it just might be the same guy we’re talking about here. I do remember the big gloves; can’t say for sure if he was Asian. It’s gotta be the same guy. There can’t be that many crazy fucks jogging shirtless in Edmonton, can there?

@Tom: I’m proud as hell of our rusty ‘lil prairie town. For all it’s shit and unassuming beauty, I love the place.

Feb 13, 2006 • 23:32

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StreetRag ::: An Urban Notebook



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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