Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Unhinged Alaska: Not quite the Olympics … but

This unhinged winter and its obnoxious attitude has been an eye-opener

Well, well. Things are changing. Sometimes we can go almost two days without weather alerts trickling across the lower screen of the T.V. warning area populations to either don heavy winter garb or snap up snorkel gear.

Up north, avalanches are clogging up roads like poorly maintained gutters and so much rain has soaked into the deep snow layers shawled over landscape that cross-country skiers are sporting personal flotation devices when traversing low-level terrain.

Locally, when the first serious warm fronts started to roll through morphing driveways into mini-glaciers, the operative words for getting rigs out to the nearby access roads were “pushed,” “dragged” or “the hell with it.”

It was quite a change from continually having to dig out the vehicles after those nasty ice trolls, the Fiends of Frost, buried them under a mass of what chionophiles refer to as “winter’s butterflies” (get a grip chions) while leaving the landscape draped in a Switzerland motif and the populace with compelling urges to yodel.

This unhinged winter and its obnoxious attitude has been an eye-opener.

As we watched the recent Winter Olympics, I became rather awestruck when I realized that there were several featured sports that I had vicariously participated in by just living through the latest weather fronts.

Example: Trudging up the icy incline to East Hill Road is good exercise but, if one’s cleats malfunction during a positioning turn, the way back to our turnoff is a howling keister traverse down to its junction with only one chance to grab the corner alder and swing toward the cabin. The probability of my success is not enhanced by being the size of a Sasquatch and the rescue tree being just knee high to fledgling moose.

Fortunately, the only time I experienced such a debacle, I managed to snatch onto a branch, regain my footing, then ice dance along the remaining driveway via involuntary triple axels, quad toe loops and countless twizzles while scaring the bejesus out of a half dozen pheasants foraging for seeds under an old spruce. My landing was not graceful but I received a few points for not requiring a 911 call. Those were disallowed by the judge who imposed a major penalty for not waiting for the sanding truck that arrived 20 minutes later. Lesson: Never give a wife a score card if you are up to something that requires the IQ of ice melt.

At the moment, we are getting slammed by a muscular downpour accompanied by banshee winds yowling out of the east so fierce that the larger raindrops are leaving indentations in the logs.

Well, that was a bit dramatic. Let’s just say the foul circumstances are raucous enough to rile the dog queen because she knows that we’ll be using the chain leash when we take her into the meteorological maelstrom for a duty run.

The gear change-out not only keeps her from becoming airborne but signals that, once the door opens, she’d better hit the ground smokin’ and get the job done.

She used to deem such physical exertions unseemly until realizing that there’s nothing regal about trying to hold a dignified squat midst a 40-mph headwind while being blown backward in the midst of a crucial bladder purge.

Note: I had just finished the above paragraph when the lights went out. The wife had no clue of what happened because she had retired and had initiated her sound suppression routine of white noise and a blanket burial of her cranial area.

On the other hand, our four-footed lunatic had been apprehensively prowling around the cabin like there was something evil lurking just outside the front door waiting to turn her into evening snack when everything went black.

Needless to say, I didn’t see her coming before she hit my lap in full turbo but saw red after her paws impacted an area I once vigilantly safeguarded with an athletic cup during my days of impact sports.

I still haven’t wholly recovered from her panicked dive but my balance is back, I can speak in baritone again, and type without seeing double to make my deadline.

Yep, at the moment, things are looking up. The passing hell-storm turned our driveway back onto a gravel pad and left the thoroughfare to town looking more negotiable as long as one avoids the potholes with “Diver Down” flags and vehicle recovery barges.

Until next time …

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com.

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