The channel has been changed, for now, on the image of our Edmonton winter, thanks to a 90-second Apple commercial called Misunderstood:

The spot tells the story of a seemingly self-absorbed teenager who appears to care only about communing with his technology. As it turns out, however, he is actually playing the role of family memory keeper, using his iPhone to record those emotional sights and evanescent sounds of family togetherness.

The video was shot in Edmonton, and that makes this winter city the background of an Apple ad. The significance of it all is at the forefront of discussion this evening in social media. After all, the iconic images of Edmonton are river valley in the summer or fall. Celebrating winter is more than a bit out there for us.

Paula Simons, the Edmonton Journal's best connection to the reality of this place, put it this way: "All that snow. That blue sky. Those icicles on the eaves. It seems Apple, with the almighty power of its global brand, has anointed Edmonton as its archetypal winter city, its dream Christmas card brought to life."

That sense of the power of what is in the frame (Paula's Christmas card, and, by extension, the postcard, the television monitor, the movie screen) is the thing. What we frame is just as real—and probably even more so—than the rest of the image. Actually, the frame makes the image by keeping the other stuff out.

And, so, when we frame things in our typical winter-should-scare-the-shit-out-of-you style, well, who can blame anyone for not being fond of fear? This, taken from a local TV news broadcast last week, is what I mean:
"Good afternoon, everyone. You just need to look outside your window to see it's a miserable Thursday in the Capital Region as a blast of winter batters us. It's shaping up to be another nightmare commute. With a look at how Edmontonians are navigating city streets and what's being done to keep them safe, we're joined by, etc, etc"
I wonder what's left in the lexicon for actual bad weather? Or an actual military invasion!

Edmonton does have challenges with the weather here. But the biggest challenge, I believe, is that the weather is the story here. It's not the background, it's not something that happens on our way to do other things. It is the thing. And as long as that is the case, we'll be stuck in a picture of our own framing.

Making another frame is where the effort belongs. So, let's take the advice and best science of the meteorologists and weather specialists and the other high priests of weather software,  let's thank them for the giving us their best and worst, but let's not be enthralled by the weather here.

There are other things to find and discover and do. Other ways to move through winter on our way to bistros and movies and live music and togetherness.

That's the really cool thing about the Apple video. The weather is a supporting character. Not the star. Kinda what you expect from a technology company whose success is measured by the extent its products can make its technology disappear.


  1. Nice post, Glenn. I was unreasonably excited to see Edmonton and the weather "as a supporting character." Maybe that's kind of silly when the main qualification was "where is it snowy early in the season?" But it was still a little thrill.

  2. Thanks, Pat. Maybe it was the spell of our first-ever trip to Manhattan a couple of weeks ago, but the cold weather ( it blew right through Shelagh's coats!) was simply what we went through to get where we were going. After watching you in the morning, that is!

  3. Thanks for adding a little needed perspective on the weather. I often feel our weather casters are trying to show each other up with the most outrageous headline for attention. Really this city is a nice place to live and most of the time. When we have the odd squall it provides us an opportunity to slow down and look around as we get to where we are going. And if I hear one more comment about windchill I think I'm going to have to take someone on a bike ride, Likely against their will.

    1. Thanks for the good word! I remember learning at a young age that there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. And have learned since that gear extends to one's outlook!

  4. I somehow deleted a comment from Lost Together. Thanks of the good thoughts!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


Some Late Thoughts Listening To Wheat Kings

Three Things from Edmonton - Episode 46: minding the gap, talking the talk, reading the room