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.
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.
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?