Illuminating Day

On my bicycle ride into work this morning, this is what it looked like on the 142nd St. service road just in front of the MacKinnon Ravine:

With a film of new snow, the street looks like a sheet of paper. And on it, the twisted prose of the boulevard trees and the ghostridings of those who have already made their marks.

Farther along, on 102 Ave, and now moving east along the narrow sidewalk (in winter it's the only safe way to travel that section) I saw a bundled pedestrian moving in the same direction. Instead of risking a slip and a crash or a bell ring and a scare, I veered into the museum grounds and toward Government House.

And somebody flicked a switch and the hum of the morning traffic on icy asphalt, and the rev of the motors, died away. And this is what it looked like one way.

And this is what it looked like the other way. Peering through a
hedgerow to the red-lit, white-lit traffic below, I thought of cedar
waxwings sharing Mountain Ash berries in the front-yard shrubs.

On the way home from work, now pedalling west along the north sidewalk on 102 Ave, I saw three men crouched next to a pickup in a driveway. One was directing a cellphone light onto the snow.
I applied my brakes and they made that wail of laughter sound. "Do you need some more light?" 

"Sure," one of them said. I detached the front light from the handlebars and passed it to him. "Thanks."
After a few minutes, I found the wedding ring. "Thanks, man," he said. "You saved his marriage!" 

It was an illuminating day on the bike. 


I shared the wedding ring story with Mike Jorgensen tonight over beers hosted by Graham Neil at Original Joe's off 124th St. It was another reminder that telling a story changes it, widens it. Jorgey looked at it from the perspective of the dudes, and how they might be telling a story tonight about how surprised they were to see a masked cyclist dismount, offer a flashlight to the cause, and then find the wedding ring. What if they were from out of the country? What if they were new to Edmonton? And how not new the whole encounter was, he pointed out. "We've been asking do you need more light since we were in the caves!" he said. 

And as he listened, I realized the incident shone a light on me. Because, to be honest, my first impulse was to avoid the looming obstacle that turned out to be three men searching the ground. I anticipated negative reactions, like, why is this cyclist on the sidewalk?, and so on. And I had enough time to take the plan that presented itself in my mind, which was to detour through the alley and around them. After all, my goal was to get home, get warm, get some food. Until that goal changed and became get home to tell a story of what happened to me when I decided not to take the lane. 

The ring was next to that pickup's back tire


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