#YEG: Orange Light

A Vancouver transplant falls for Edmonton’s glow.

Illustration Katy Dockrill

I take you for granted, Edmonton. You’re light years from being the town we moved to when I was six. My mom and I stepped off the plane, right onto the tarmac. It was spring; the ground was brown and dry looking and it stretched out for miles. I was disappointed. Where were the mountains? The green trees, the lushness I was used to? When you’re six, you go where your dad is transferred. I got used to it, but imagined moving back to Vancouver … someday.

Growing up in Ottewell, I had freedom, lots of late summer nights running through the ravine by our apartment. Sometimes, while playing red light green light, I would get struck by your light, from the lengthy sunsets that come from being so far north. Once, when I was nine, the beauty of an impossibly beautiful orange light stopped me as I was being tagged “it” over and over. I stood there, struck dumb by the colour in the sky.

Back then, we had little money for entertainment and, when a summer storm would strike, my parents and I would sit with the curtains pulled open and watch. We’d marvel at the lightning lighting up the sky and, when the storm was over, admire the brilliant light that coloured the brick wall of the building across from us.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the restaurants, the entertainment offered or our festivals and the Art Gallery of Alberta. I also appreciate the whimsy. I love the silver Talus Dome sculpture by the Whitemud freeway – it’s like costume jewellery to enhance your beauty. But you don’t have to adorn yourself like that, ’cause …

I love you anyway. Yikes, too sappy? I know. Pull myself together. I’m Canadian. But I never did leave this city. I didn’t move back to Vancouver. Sure, I went on a year-long trip to New Zealand and Australia when I was 22, lived in Banff for a year. But there was something missing …

It’s your light – it catches me off guard and reminds me this is home. Sometimes your light catches me as I’m driving along the Whitemud and I see that bling, that silver ball sculpture and it’s reflecting your awesome light back at me.

Michele Vance Hehir is a playwright. She lives in Edmonton – of course! – with her husband, their son and a border collie/Satan cross, named Snoopy. She’s currently working on a new play and a Fringe show tentatively titled, The Last Rumination of Gayle.

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