Wow. Old Lady Winter sure had her way with E-Town this weekend. Two days before the “first day of spring”, and in less than 24 hours, The Old Gal spewed out eight inches of the glorious white. When it comes to excessive snowfall, Edmontonians like to pat themselves on the back for their level of tolerance/preparedness. We tend to chuckle when we read about eastern cities grinding to a halt after a measly three-inch dump. We guffaw at those wimp-ass Vancouverites who can’t seem to negotiate the minor but city-halting snowfalls that they occasionally receive.
Truth be told, we’re full of shit.
The post snowfall mayhem on Edmonton’s roadways was quite humorous. Thousands of cars were stuck. AMA phone lines were failing because of high call volume. People were canceling Saturday dinner reservations. Malls were vacant. Coffee shops were almost empty – save the brave, Sorel wearing double-double hunters. Anyone who owned a skid-steer loader or a plow of any kind was wringing their hands with greed as their rates went up exponentially with each falling snowflake. All city busses were running more than an hour late, and at one point on Saturday evening, 25% (30 busses) of Edmonton’s operating bus fleet was stuck in the snow. Passengers were called out for push duty. Parking lots were full of spinning tires and expletive heavy motorists. The 4×4-owning knuckle draggers were in their glory, blithely ignoring road conditions and passing all the cautious slowdrivers with their familiar “I’m invincible” arrogance. When the white stuff finally stopped falling and the graders and plows were called out en mass, everyone had had quite enough of the shit. I’m sure that the city’s snow removal budget went directly into the red.
It would be too easy to dwell on how shitty it is that this white weather arrived so late. We needed the moisture. Badly. In fact, more snow would not be a bad thing right now. It was nice to see neighbours out shoveling together and stopping to talk. I saw many people standing on their front walks leaning on their shovels, sharing their winter woes with each other. I saw many a person lend a hand in digging their neighbour’s half-buried vehicle out of the snow. I think we all recognized the temporary hardship that the snow brought and we accepted it. Some of us helped others get through it.
Enjoy the snow while it’s here. Embrace the hardship. Leave early for work. Have some empathy for the big truck guys and their idiocy. Take it easy on the roads, E-Towners.
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?