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Like falling out of love


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Last fall in Chinook I saw a marvelous play about the great storyteller, Edgar Allen Poe, presented by the talented young actors of the Montana Repertory Theatre. One thing I took home from this play, and that has stuck with me, is the idea of "Poe Moments." Poe Moments are those wonderfully evil thoughts we all typically have when confronted with an annoying person or situation. Unless one is a psychotic serial killer, and let's assume we are not, we do not act on the thoughts; we sweep them beneath the rug of consciousness. Nowadays, instead of lifting the corner of my rug, I recognize the Poe Moment, wryly thank it for participating in my life, chuckle and get on with my day. Anything can trigger a Poe Moment. This morning when I woke up, I groaned out of bed, hobbled to the window, saw several inches of new-fallen snow and mumbled, "I don't love you anymore." I checked the forecast for the next three days — more of the same. I was too depressed to look at the ten-day forecast. I have been house-bound for too many days, weeks, nay, months. I watched the flakes drift to the ground, a blanket of white with shadows of blue, an obliteration of geography. I experienced a now familiar "Poe-e-tic" feeling. I growled and grumped through my morning routine. Certain years are more memorable than others and eventually assume a place in personal history as "the year that ... " or "the winter when ... ." This evil winter, which seems bent on burying us beneath the snow, human popsicles, deserves a name. What better name than Edgar, in honor of Poe. Edgar Allen Winter, I salute you. My friends in a more temperate clime accuse me of talking too much about the weather. I answer that for those of us who live in northern Montana, winter weather takes on a persona. This winter has become my most intimate friend/ enemy. A friend, for his terrible beauty. An enemy, for his danger. I sigh for those unappreciated years when I lived in the Pacific Northwest, where every day it rained and every day the temperature was 46 degrees. Winter and summer I wore the same clothing. My monthly heating bill fluctuated minimally. I owned one set of tires for my vehicle. My car did not have plug-ins sticking like sloppy tongues out the grill, nor an extension cord greedily feeding it power at night. My heavy Sorel boots mouldered in the back corner of the attic. This morning, in a moment of self-torture, I bowed in obeisance before my summer closet, lined with shortsleeved shirts I have not seen since October. My eyes glazed over with a feeling akin to lust. I cleaned the cobwebs from my sandals and placed them lovingly back on the shelf. I blew a kiss to my summer clothes, gently shut the door and promised to return in June. Eventually I pulled myself together and hoisted my red flannel-lined jeans off the shelf of my winter closet. I wriggled into my long-sleeved merino wool pullover and topped it with a plaid Pendleton button-up shirt. I completed my wardrobe with knee-high wool socks. This is what I wear indoors. This afternoon I went to the post office to mail a check to the power company, a check the amount of which required a bank loan. I pulled on my boots heavy with tire-tread soles. Then I struggled into my hefty winter coat, twined my scarf twice around my neck, jammed my wool hat onto my head and wriggled my fingers into my gloves. A fashion maven I am not. A Poe Moment occurred when I battled to disengage the plugs from the extension cord to my van. I envisioned opening my mouth and with the breath of a fiery dragon I melted the mounds of snow and ice. In my imagination I lifted my dragon body into the air and blasted up and down every street, clearing the snow and flooding the alleys. Filled with dragon pride, I preened my feathers and soared out into the country, melting Montana to the beat of a tell-tale heart. Edgar Allen Winter, no longer shall I worship your frostcrusted limbs, burn incense in homage to your diamond-sprinkled sky, or lift prayers of thanksgiving for the beauty of snow-blanketed hills. Edgar Allen Winter, I would carve you into little pieces and melt you in the incinerator. I don't love you any more. (Sondra Ashton graduated from Harlem High in 1963 and left for good. She finds, after recently returning, things now look a bit different. Join her in a discussion of her column at http://montanatumbleweed.blogspot. com.)


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