Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Unhinged Alaska: Sometimes it’s not cool to mention heat

Thanks for the joke fest material rolling into our Unhinged Alaska headquarters folks but chill out.

“We’re having a heat wave, a subtropical tropical heat wave;

“The temperature’s rising, it isn’t surprising … ”

Or, or something like that. Sorry, Irving B.

It’s so hot … robins are yanking fresh, turf-steamed, worms out of the lawn.

It’s so hot … the neighbor’s dog took off after a rabbit and they both walked.

Thanks for the joke fest material rolling into our Unhinged Alaska headquarters folks but chill out. If I try to publish the best ones, my editor will suffer a heatstroke just whacking the delete button with a ball peen hammer.

Last week, I wrote an expected visitor, “The remaining summer months look like they may be scratching the thick hide of the high 80s. So, when you hit the streets of Fairbanks make sure you’ve dipped yourself in enough sunscreen to slide au naturel across the surface of the sun without changing the tone of your skin.”

That brought a response from one of the guys in Mesa, Arizona, who snarked, “It looks like the weather will be quite comfortable.” I wrote back that then he’d better bring a light winter coat because it will probably drop into the low 60s by the time he hits Homer and we wouldn’t want him developing a case of hysterical hypothermia putting a serious chill on his halibut hunt. Haven’t heard a word back.

Trust me, that retort wasn’t out of line. Turk spotted some tourists in a spit campground trudging through a mild wind and rain squall styling Eddie Bauer Pacs and fur-lined hoodies.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m far from being a wimp when it comes to being put on stir fry for months on end. The military set me on “simmer” in Asia, “bake” in Texas, “roast” in Gila Bend, Arizona (famous for the most malfunctioning swamp coolers in America) and “broil” in the Mohave Dessert after luring me into thinking I had it made when my first assignment was a sportsman’s paradise called Montana.

I was in Valhalla surrounded by some of the finest fishing and hunting a young man from the Washington State’s Cascades could wish for until they decided to send me to grad school in a state so flat the only hills featured on its topographical maps were built by ants.

Things didn’t improve much after that except that I learned that there were places on earth that you can swim in the surrounding humidity.

But, I digress, the “warmer weather” is making its mark. Our resident mama moose and her calf have disappeared and have most likely jetted off to cavort around some high mountain lake.

The coyotes’ howlings have morphed into nightly deep wheezes and a 3-year-old black bear is wandering the area with a “just shoot me now” expression.

The latest 10-day forecast is teasing some rain coming our way, which would be great. Especially, for our lawn that’s beginning to develop a serious case of the dreaded Sahara syndrome with patches so large and brown that shrews won’t set foot on them for fear of turning into shake and bake treats for the hawks patrolling the area.

My wife’s flower garden is flourishing though, but only because she has the determination, toughness, and the doggedness of a hotshot firefighter when it comes to facing a challenge. We aren’t on a municipality water system nor do we have the pleasure of having a well on the property so it’s delivered.

That, of course, means no garden hoses or sprinklers to deliver every plant in her garden with a cool draught of water so they can make it through the day without turning into something resembling vast clumps of wilted spinach. Hauling watering pots is one of the missions for the summer around here.

Luckily, it’s never all that bad at our little abode by the sea. If the heat continues to back off, we might even be able to coax our drama dog out of the soothing coolness of the basement. Lately, when Jane tries to take Luna on her daily delicate-duty mission and the sun is pounding down on the deck, the cur will immediately topple over into a poorly executed, dead faint, posture after stepping out the door.

There’s something not quite right about that conniving little mutt.

Nick can be reached at if he isn’t busy trying to outsmart their four-pawed lunatic while his wife is back east visiting her relatives. It’s 90-plus degrees back there, so you can bet he won’t be complaining about the heat when he calls. Nor will he forget to water the plants. Did that once 20 years ago. You would think it was just yesterday.

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