Friday, January 26, 2007

Farewell, Grandin.

You've always been the soft spot in my heart, from the first time we came to sit in your gazebo, one late night eating watermelon and pizza and driving around until we found you, us unknowing young suburbanites. then it was all through university, where I would park at the mezzanine, second floor, and walk down through the park and house lined street, through the gazebo in the park and across the highlevel to be at the foot of humanities. every morning and every night, for four years, at best. and worse. meeting up with friends in your park, where neither of us lived, to start our sojourn across the city. then, moving in, at last, calling grandin home, with the light filtering through your large aged elms and a certain beauty in your street scape. trolley train running past underneath my windowpanes as well as 109 St brouhaha. living close to martini's and zuppa's was charming for a while, late night/early morning stumbles were easy, but maybe not altogether necessary. the petite elderly woman behind the tailor's desk never did warm up either. fire alarms in the building, awkward elevator rides, and creepers left and right have soured my feelings for you, grandin. in time, I will of course meet up again in your park in your gazebo. see that light again through your elms early in the morning and just before evening. but for now, I bid adieu and farewell, grandin.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

an early darkness

I've joined the ranks of the 8 - 4:30, waking at 6 every morning and getting home by 5 in the evening. I leave on foot in complete darkness and I return on foot in darkness. I normally take the sidestreets, but going up to Jasper to mail a letter, I was too distracted by the thickness of traffic zipping in every single direction to be annoyed that the post offices weren't even open until 8am.

I remember briefly walking around one summer at 7am, whether it was at the beginning or the end of a very long day, I no longer remember, but I recall thinking how busy and alive the city felt. Constant traffic, people waiting in crowds at corners, and line ups forming at coffee shops.

Deciding to walk right down Jasper from 112 to 124 St, it was a completely different city. I could only imagine if more stores and restaurants were open and other people were walking back and forth enjoying themselves. A lot of pedestrians truck it along in the mornings, whether to the bus stop or getting a jump on daily errands, but where are do these people go at night? It's a question I've been asking myself for over ten years, and though the idea of a night life in downtown Edmonton is now fathomable, maybe I should just resign myself to the fact that it's just not that kind of town. Morning life north of the river, Night life south of the river. Just like it always was, I suppose.

I am seeing the tremendous morning life of downtown Edmonton as the healthier of two concepts.
time to just put on the ol' cardigan and stay in the for the night.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Dog Park afternoon(s)

I once railed against the grid system of city planning and favoured a free-for all trek that can only seemingly be found in fields, gravel parking lots, and dog parks. but as winter time comes, we can see the tready footmarks and paths and naturally fall into the line (and prints) of those before us.

that argument never led anywhere, but maybe it's about why you're walking and what you're doing -- and not where you're going -- that has to be reconsidered. that's a primary rule, but how we walk through the environment is relatively new territory.

the laurier dog park, which connects up to valleyview and down to hawrelak, was a favorite path of mine years ago. I always had a dog, but that's another point. walking around the park with friends, whether as a shortcut or just to span time, was a favorite route of mine. once clamouring down to the river, I don't remember why we went down, but I do remember being right up to the rushing of the river, which has never seemed so big (even counting when I've paddled down that sucker). the park consists of a large open field that leads to various forks and paths that lead you around to where you started or across the river if you'd really wanted. walking around with Nutters and Manitoba (owner and dog, respectively), you saw more people than you would on city streets. nice view, cloistered down in the valley, the pace of dog park walking neither begets sidewalk rage or disdain. lots of eye contact, stopping and chatting, even if Manitoba is a menace, with no clear direction of where you must walk, the atmosphere is to enjoy.

getting back on the sidewalk, with Manitoba in tow, pedestrians leapt out of the way with scrunched up faces and little pad-coated dogs cowered in fear.

I still favour the free-for all trek over the city grid, but maybe only those I meet in gravel parking lots and empty fields will agree with me on this. someone told me that how you spend the first day of the new year reflects how the rest of the year goes, and I knew I wanted to go for a walk. of course, we must still drive to the park, which I still think is hilarious, but with the choice of walking through grey-lit downtown or driving and then walking through the glistening white (and splotchy yellow) dog park, I have chosen the latter for this year.