Unhinged Alaska: The grump is back and hungover

Last spring I wrote a column titled “Something wicked this way comes”.

It was about a reccurring spring battle we have with malevolent moose who look upon our landscaping as flora fillet mignon and floss their molars with rare rose stems.

This time around the center of attraction is a brute who has been lurking in the far hinterlands for the last couple of years and has finally decided to sneak back to cuff the complacency out of us like an annoyed sow with a recalcitrant cub.

It’s Old Man Winter acting like a drama dude and sporting a hangover the size of Australia where he’s spent the last two years on a profound beer-bonging toot while quaffing enough wine to fill Kenai Lake.

It hasn’t been pretty lately but I must admit that it was enjoyable bragging to my old military buddies about our recent mild winters especially when they were slogging through drifts so high they had to stuff hot packs into their skivvies so they could sit down in their rigs without snapping off highly coveted appendages.

Not anymore.

I should have sensed him coming.

In late November and through much of December, the drawn-out nights hinted of his eminent return.

Subtle warning signals manifested themselves in wisps of air burdened with growing multitudes of frosted crystals floating over the darkened landscape while the earth crunched instead of quietly acquiescing to the pressure of my boots.

Weather systems surfed through the state on crests of air stream pressures spawning storm fronts that seemed to be confused as to their mission of the day.

For a while it was snow showers in the evening with just enough lingering melt to assure a stealth layer of ice at the yawn of dawn morphing a normally mundane newspaper retrieval into a foot luge event featuring slick bottom slippers and yowls of flamboyant profanities that would make a drill sergeant wince.

At first, I believed that Old Man Winter would temper his brain addled snits and ease into a recovery mode akin to ingesting a few Advil accompanied by an elongated nap, but no.

The vengeful malcontent came roaring back into maximum consciousness as the full brunt of two years of partying with the El Ninos took root in what was left of his gray matter.

He proceeded to throw an epic commode hugging display of cloud hurling wickedness and redefined the term, “breaking wind”.

At first, his attacks were negligible featuring a series of snow laden days requiring plowing that resulted in layers of compacted snow that were rather easy to deal with if one had enough basic intelligence to comprehend that the posted speed limits under those conditions weren’t requirements but a death wish.

When he added sub-freezing temperatures, the white stuff crystalized to the point that it was comparatively easy to walk around and we could negotiate our hill in two-wheel drive without butt puckering slides. Totally acceptable winter conditions.

Then he went Darth Vader.

It was as if he had tried to cure his brown bottle flu with the hair of the dog by swilling down a case of Strawberry Boones Farm wine with backs of a cheap bourbon so vile that the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Agency had judged it a hazardous explosive.

He whooshed his tepid breath across the region transmuting the land into a solid sheet of glaze that would intimidate an Olympic speed skater.

Gone were the dramatic bluish hoar frost forests and landscapes that glowed with a silvery sheen when bathed in moonlight and then sparkled with the sun’s touch as if they had been sprinkled with the purest of powdered sugars.

The mornings’ pre-dawn glimmer no longer highlighted the visage of a carpet of delicate fern-like rime etchings overlaying the pickup’s bed cover and gone were nature’s frozen interpretations of mountain peaks imprinted in the buildup of chilling humidity on our windowpanes.

In their stead the psychotic geezer ripped open his bag of inclement tools like it was a cheap piñata let them fall where they may.

The western part of the state was hit with gale winds generating whiteouts while other zones were smacked with sub-zero conditions freezing, pipes, vehicles, nose hairs, and clueless Chihuahuas that took over three seconds to pee.

Morning commuters, especially in the larger urban areas, slid into scenes akin to the chaos of demolition derbies. Drivers were performing more pirouettes than prima ballerinas executing The Nutcracker on lightly oiled ice.

Hopefully, Old Man Winter will take a break, clear his head, and chill with the schizoid outbursts for a while. But I doubt it.

Now that he’s returned to reign from his icicle-spiked throne, I’m confident he didn’t leave his duffle full of dirty tricks on a beach somewhere.

Even if he kicks back for the rest of February, I’d keep a close eye on next month.

In his state of mind, I don’t think he’ll tolerate a lamb on either end of March and may just have a pride of lions up his refrigerated sleeves.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn’t busy chain sawing his way through an ice fog.

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