Three Things from Edmonton podcast - Episode 34: fashion statements, autumn leaves, single track mind

Happy end of the week, friends!

🚨 Understatement Alert: These are strange and troubling times. 

I find it helpful sometimes to go small, and, while not ignoring the latest giant outrages, and reacting to them, I try, too,  to notice what I notice that makes me happy or grateful. To secure the bastion of sensation, as Heaney might say. It might be the only way to preserve myself.

This week's podcast.

This week's three things:

Sisters in session, far right

1. Fashion statements

It was Auntie Shelagh’s birthday last week. Her four sisters who live in these parts took her out for lunch at Juniper in Strathearn. The topic of conversation turned, as it typically does, to stories of childhood. Childhood was six girls and three boys, so, there are some real yarns. I like listening to them talk, the sisters, sometimes all at the same time, about their clothes from those fading days. Their mother, Phyllis, was a prodigious sewer. Clothes for holidays, school pictures, occasions, weddings, just for life.

Shelagh, grade 4, in flowered dress with standup collar and eyelet pinafore.

The sisters remember everything about the clothes their mom made. The fabric, the thread, the colours, the seams, the buttons, the button loops, the collars, the biases. I don’t know what bias means, but I nod like I do. Skirts, tops, jumpers, dresses, costumes—it’s a big walk-in, sit-down wardrobe of memories when they get going, piecing the past together like that.

Phyllis's colourful clothes closet included denim

Somehow those clothes are re-made in the re-telling of them,  the gift they were the first time around they still are, brought out and presented brand new in words, secured by ties that bind.

2. Autumn leaves

The dried leaves have started again to sound like tin foil as the wind sends them scuttling across the pavement in this city. This is early September in Edmonton. Chlorophyll is hoisting the white flag everywhere. I was pedalling up the switchback on the old Keillor Road. Patches of yellow and red are spreading through the green. I focussed for an instant on five yellowy-brown fallen leaves on the scrub ground up ahead and off to the right. Except that, as I got closer,  they were four leaves, not five. Lying on the ground with the leaves was a yellow name tag printed with the word VISITOR, the sticker you get when you visit someone in the hospital.

 A reminder to see things new

It was litter, but it struck me, that printed word, VISITOR, there in the dirt, where no words usually are. Visitor from the Latin word that means to see. As I get older, I sometimes feel the task is to live more like a visitor, and somehow teach myself how to see old things with new eyes.

3. Single track mind

Behind the screens of trees in Edmonton’s river valley and ravines is a network of what’s called single track. The  trails are used by hikers and joggers and mountain bike riders, and other little creatures.The trails are not paved, and they’re not wide, a foot and a half or two feet across, room for one bike at a time. They come in different degrees of difficulty, like ski slopes. They have names like The Raven, Flat Pete, Lover’s Lane, Birdhouse, Ray Gun. They are lovely and scenic and you find a kind of peace on the go and they are hard teachers, and what they teach is flow, not speed. Keeping going is the thing on single track, keeping going over roots, around banked turns, across little footbridges, up hills, down hills, along the face of the bank.  It is exhilarating to come out of a downhill turn on Silver Fox and find the line that channels me straight for the bridge whose planks under my tires sound like a deck of cards being shuffled, riffle style , as I move across.

Hill, banked turn, bridge on Silver Fox

This is flow. Important, vital commodities flow: water flows, words flow, music has a flow—and time flows. And ink. When it all comes together on a piece of single track, I feel like ink being written out. Until I don’t. Until I am not content with flow and want speed on Six Shooter, instead. I lose my balance and tumble through the trees, my bike landing on top of me. It turns out that blood flows just a bit, too. 

All good. Have a safe weekend, friends. See you back in the trees!

Deck shuffle bridge on Silver Fox

(The pic at the top of the post is Auntie Shelagh in a Joseph Ribkoff sleeveless navy number with what looks like a faux wrap skirt, but that's just a guess.)



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