I shake off my laziness and greet the Sunday evening streets with a grin. Walking west toward the sundown – growing pinker by the moment – I get a feeling of welcome calm. Sunday always seems to stir those feelings. In preparation for the coming workweek, the city has retracted its teeth and is cozying down for a nice nap. The warm March air produces a bit of softness. It is nice to be walking.
Just as I reach the corner, the number seven emerges from the valley and makes its way down 109th street southbound. I take comfort in the orange glow of the route indicator and in the silhouettes of the six riders on board. The sun has just ducked out of sight and is preparing its bed of red clouds. There is a certain quality to this light. It is diffuse; the shadows are faint and short. The long shadows do appear, but only when the sun peeks between certain buildings at certain times, and only when certain people are paying attention.
I see couples returning from the grocery store. I recognize their plight in bringing food from the car to the house. It’s that faint embarrassment we get when we are simply doing the things that everyone else does. We got caught being ordinary when really, in our minds, we are completely extraordinary. We don’t want anyone knowing that we still buy Cocoa Puffs and Tang drink mix. And god forbid that we get caught carrying the TP into the house. We don’t want our neighbours to have proof that we wipe our asses.
The man on the bench is there as he almost always is. I have passed him many times and have turned down almost all of his pleas for loose change. I have never said hello to him but today being a gentle Sunday, I give him a solid greeting. Before I set out this evening I set aside two dollars in change just in case I ran into him. As I pass, he holds out his hand as he has every week for the past two years. He accepts my buck with a grizzled grin and a gargled “thank you.” I smile at his unaffected manner and continue on.
The queue at the ice cream shop is out the door. It’s been above zero for scarcely four hours and already spring is kicking in. As I’ve said before, Edmontonians are ready at the drop of a hat to embrace the coming season. And who can blame us, with our five months of winter? Ah, ice cream. I’m a big Rum Raisin fan myself. Bubble Gum ice cream (the kind with actual pieces of gum) is a close number two. Then again, few things beat a gelato from Cafe Leva near the U of A Campus.
These Sunday evening hours are simple ones, best enjoyed during a slow westward walk just before sundown. That Sunday feeling is elusive but unmistakable. Everything feels different and everyone knows what day it is. I sometimes wish that I could bottle that feeling and keep it for a Wednesday afternoon. But I know that it is best to leave Sunday where it is. Best to keep the feeling scarce, lest it vanish.
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?