Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Unhinged Alaska: Hey Boreas. Knock it off. You’re flash freezing my karma

For the last few weeks, we have been hosting Boreas, the Greek god of winter

Well, isn’t this special?

For the last few weeks, we have been hosting Boreas, the Greek god of winter and the cruelest of the wind gods of Greek mythology.

Not only that, he decided to drag along his demented offspring who have the power of hydro-cryokinesis. Which, unfortunately, is the capability to freeze water pipes, car batteries and not properly protected posteriors making it extremely unpleasant to interface the snotty sibling psychos.

It has been years since we’ve been slammed with a mean stretch of deep cold and howling winds spawning periodic white outs so fierce that it’s tough to spot your car in the yard much less the access road or the trail to the outhouse (good luck with that state of affairs, even if you make it).

Some of the gullible had started to feel that the last few mellower winters were becoming the norm and that any reports of sudden massive accumulations of over 2 feet snow were just sporadic reports from remote glaciers grinding along the stoney hides of coastal mountain valleys.

Yeah, I get it. The last couple of weeks have been radically glacial but let’s try to keep things in perspective.

Let me offer up a few “frigid” comparisons from the contents of my yellowing, ‘Log from the far North.’

The term “frigid” up here is a cold so malevolent that, if you slam the door while launching into your rig, its window will shatter and your iced-over, insulated knickers instantaneously disintegrate upon impact with the deep-frozen upholstery featuring the consistency of cement.

Frigid is where new headlamp batteries last about 10 and a half seconds and diesel fuel becomes so dense that it’s dispensed in blocks.

Frigid is a wind chill factor of 60-plus below spawned by winds hurtling snow-infused tempests across the hood ornament of your rig until it morphs into nothing more than a fleeting image suspended on a wall of solid white.

I recall once, back in late eighties, roaming around between Prospect Creek and the Yukon River, the ambient temperature down at an old well house became so wicked its thermometer killed itself at -70.

If you wanted to waste perfectly good hot coffee, you could toss it in the air and the only thing that would hit the ground was recyclable freeze-dried crystals.

If there is a positive about the aforementioned “frigid” conditions, it’s that when it gets butt-slammin’ bitter, the air mass becomes so bitter-cold that its movement is generally sloth-sluggish and that’s a positive.

If a notable breeze came up under those circumstances, the wind chill would take a person down like a turbo toilet with a 10-gallon flush cycle.

It’s been several years since I’ve worked under those conditions and, although I miss the wild country and rolling on the Dalton, I can’t say the same for the whiteouts, avalanches, and walking around looking like a sasquatch geared up in hoar frost.

Reminiscences are fine but always looking back can lead to a head-on with something you never see coming.

The genesis of this column comes from the fact that, sometimes, we forget about how downright cantankerous Mother Nature and her minions of ancient cultural gods can become.

When they decide to get a petulant snark on, they take great pleasure in reminding us that they carry one hell of a weather bat and will use it, especially if they feel they are being taken for granted.

So, take it easy with the complaints, especially those fueled by a few nips of schnapps or IV infusions of Uncle Al’s moonshine and dental plaque remover, such as the following.

“There are mammoth blocks of ice bobbing in the bay that could serve as the airport’s alternate runways. The only way to fish out there now is with a Coast Guard icebreaker. Enough is enough!”

“What’s up with this b.s. weather? I’ve put so many trees through the wood stove, during the last 15 days, that I’m considering contracting log delivery trucks just to cut out the middle man. If this deep bite cold continues, I’ll use up more timber than publishing a congressional funding bill that would take a speed reader six months to go through. We’re talking about the destruction of a national forest here.”

There are more comments that I’d like to share, but they’d probably give the paper’s word police myocardial spasms.

Overall, it’s great to see that so many of you are taking this cold snap with a sense of humor and not getting disdainful about things you can’t control.

Hang in there. By the time you read this, the forecasted warming trend should have arrived with even some rain included. That kinda sucks, but other than requiring crampons to stand up, wouldn’t it simply be cool not to be so cool?

Nick can be reached at if he isn’t recuperating from trying to keep his old truck from coughing up batteries and the pipes from spewing snow cone stuff.

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