Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Unhinged Alaska: So sayeth the almanac 2020

Once again, the summer has rocketed by and we find ourselves on the precipice of the autumn equinox.

It’s always tough to see the squadrons of sandhill cranes heading south as the sun cozies down toward its deep fall mode, but this time around, it was more symbolic.

It was enjoyable to see individuals soaring across the sky, without face masks, although trumpeting taunts at the peons below about how that they were able launch without thermometers being bounced off their foreheads and Paul Bunyan Q-tips rammed up their beaks, was a bit over the top.

One can take just so much goading, so I respectfully bellowed back a reminder that it was hunting season.

The 10 or 12 cranes feeding in a field adjacent to our cabin seemed to take umbrage at my response and gave new meaning to the term “being flipped the bird” as they lifted off to join the migration formation.

I’m sure all of that will wash off the roof during the winter.

Besides, I’ll still get the last laugh when they get a load of what’s going on in the Lower 48 and try to bang a uey back north.

By the time you read this, the raucous calls of the graceful birds will have diminished into fading adieus of the stragglers as we await the closing of the migratory pageant where swans take the season’s final bow.

Once again, the summer has rocketed by and we find ourselves on the precipice of the autumn equinox where the twilight falls earlier, deepening and prolonging the darkness.

Sounds a bit gloomy, huh? Not really if you consider that the celestial garden above us becomes progressively seeded with an expanding and exquisite display of iridescent stars and teases the auroras soon to come.

Yeah, I know. There are drawbacks to the abbreviation of daylight hours such as the inevitable strong fall storms that roll through. Especially those featuring gale winds that require the owners of small dogs to double the tensile strength of their leashes lest their pups become fur-bearing kites mortified by having to pee in midair.

Trust me on this. Our last toy poodle instantly picked up on the nuances of using a litter box after a wicked gust cut across her preferred “delicate duties” area and nearly launched her high enough for a quick peek at Russia.

Of course, there’s always the exception. A buddy of mine has no such concerns. His beast, a Neapolitan mastiff dubbed, “Godzilla”, is a blast barrier slab with four paws. If he was posed in a three-legged, pee-firing stance, a full-frontal hit from a Cat-5 hurricane wouldn’t upset his point of aim.

Rich claims the brute has the appetite of a T-Rex and feeding it costs about the same as fueling up an 18-wheeler but ‘zilla is worth it. He says the ole boy is like having a backup tow truck and he just might need one this winter.

His cabin’s road has a tricky switchback climb to the highway and The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting our winter will have mild temps and above average snow falls. So, he figures he had better make sure his plow is in great shape and the slobbering slab stays happy.

In fact, if the last few weeks have portended events to come, we may need to batten down the hatches sooner than usual.

A while back, after a day of intermittent and mild showers, things unexpectedly turned nasty after we were safely ensconced in our bungalow. Just before midnight, ninja clouds propelled by turbo charged zephyrs sailed over the ridgeline behind us and exploded like a colossal water balloon impaled by a bolts of sheet lightning.

We have a metal roof and the wicked drumming sounded like a battle for dominance between several fanatical steel drum bands jazzed up on exotic herb smoothies and happy smoke.

We weren’t too worried because logs float, but the possibility of our cabin becoming a houseboat if the water table rose was bothersome, especially if the wildlife surrounding our abode decided to go Noah on us.

Fortunately, the torrential downpour and windstorm passed quickly leaving clogged culverts and various tree appendages scattered about the area like dismembered scarecrows.

By late midafternoon the clouds had fractured enough to allow the aging sun’s gaze to focus on the mountains across the bay dissipating their lingering blankets of overcast.

It then became obvious that their highest pinnacles attested to the fact that nature had done some thoughtful redecorating during the hours of obfuscation and darkness.

Fresh coverlets resembling snowy doilies lay draped across their zeniths but quickly vanished when chased by the warming morning winds winding through the rocky edifices.

As of late, the weather has been as schizophrenic as the stock market and its forecasts as reliable as political polls.

So, what’s next? Don’t have a clue but, if happenstances in the coming months are anywhere near the same as what we just experienced, we better crank up our winter prep to stay ahead of the curve.

As for now, let the storms come. We’ll do our best to be ready and don’t be surprised if the cranes show back up. They may figure wintering it out up here makes a lot more sense than trying to find a safe place land down there.

Hey, it’s still 2020, the unexpected has become the norm.

Nick can be reached at unless he and his wife are still busy searching for a toy or miniature rescue poodle to adopt. Those little critters really leave a hole in your heart when they cross the rainbow bridge.

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