I’m sitting in the 106 street café at eight pm, watching the snow fall outside. The tinklings of 60’s Jazz are on the stereo – very appropriate for a snowy evening. The scene and the music make beautiful accompaniment to my steaming tea. The café is dead save a few brave students and a few of the regulars. I’m doing what I always do – watching. It is a simple pleasure to watch people pass by the window in their parkas and toques; their scarves trailing behind in the fine breeze. From where I’m sitting, people look as though they’re night scene cutouts – shadows walking underneath winter’s sneeze. If I listen hard enough, I can hear the faint sound of footsteps and car tires crunching the fresh white.
It’s nice that Mother Nature has finally opened her bosom and given us a shot of the white stuff. It has been a pretty dry winter thus far, so this fresh snow is more than welcome. What has fallen so far isn’t enough, of course. We need a couple feet to really set things right. With it being March already the stuff won’t stick around in any case, but it would be nice to have a healthy April runoff. We’ll just have to wait it out.
For my walk home from the café I take the long way, winding through the housing and apartments of the Garneau area, taking comfort in the glowing windows and snow-covered vehicles. A few dog owners are out with their mutts and I get a chuckle out of the small dogs that are decked out in sweaters and booties. The basketball court in the schoolyard is frozen solid, far from April’s rhythmic rubber bounces. The 80 year-old brick house on the corner sits comfortable and unconcerned – a single orange window it’s only sign of life under the falling white. As I make my way on the final home stretch, the café jazz sneaks back into my head. The moody string of horns and piano echo this winter and its dump of snow almost perfectly. Just before I head into my apartment, I stop and put my face to the sky so that I can feel the snow. I watch the white jazz twinkle under the streetlamps and put the city to sleep.
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?