Ice forms at the tide line on the beach near Mariner Park on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)                                Ice forms at the tide line on the beach near Mariner Park on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Ice forms at the tide line on the beach near Mariner Park on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News) Ice forms at the tide line on the beach near Mariner Park on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Unhinged Alaska: You think this is cold?

I have received several emails text-mumbling about the sheets of cold air blanketing the area lately. Why, I’m not quite sure.

They must be coming from relative new arrivals who assumed that the last few winters were the norm and that whispered allegations of over 2 inches of snow accumulations were sporadic reports from remote glaciers scratching the rocky skin of Denali.

Believe it or not, some of the folks described the last couple of weeks as being “frigid.”

Come on now. Frigid is a cold so mean that, if you slam the door while jumping back into your vehicle after scraping the windows, its glass will shatter and your hyper-cooled knickers splinter upon contact with the upholstery.

Frigid is where new flashlight batteries last about three and a half seconds, candle flames freeze, and diesel fuel becomes so dense that it’s dispensed in strips.

Frigid is a wind chill factor of 60-plus below goosed by winds hurtling snow-infused air bursts across the hood of your rig until it morphs into nothing more than a fleeting image suspended in a barrier of 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 malevolent its thermometer totaled 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. Note: The same goes for -40, if you want to try it in warmer climes.

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

Trust me, if a nice 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, sundry monsoon clouds of mosquitoes and visiting idiots behind the wheel with the IQ of a bag of Jiffy Pop.

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

When I decided to leave the high arctic rodeo, I dedicated my time to chilling out in a different way by pursuing profound piscatorian delights, beach walks, writing, and seeking out what was over life’s horizons or just around its corners.

What I discovered was a unique population harboring an unquenchable sense of humor and bottomless capacity to laugh at themselves and life’s absurdities.

Take for instance this latest cold snap that was the genesis of this column.

It seems that newbies and those with stunted memories either haven’t experienced or forgot about how downright grumpy Mother Nature and Old Man Winter can become.

When those two get together, they sometimes take great pleasure in reminding us that they still carry one hell of a wallop stick and will use it, especially if they feel taken for granted.

So, when the duo starts throwing snit fits, the emails roll in with stories and complaints, many of which were probably fueled by a few nips of schnapps or IV infusions of Boones Farm Apple wine.

Quiz: Is it fertile or fermented minds that come up with the following?

“The eagles keep crashing in my front yard because they lack de-icing equipment. PETA should form an action committee.” Or, “The moose are becoming so frosty that they’re rubbing their keisters on our French doors tryin’ thaw out their sphincters.” How about, “There are mammoth blocks of ice bobbing in the bay that could serve as the airport’s alternate runways. And then there’s, “What’s up with this? I’ve put so many trees through our wood stove, in the last ten days, that I’m considering contracting logging trucks for direct delivery, just so I can cut out the middle man. If this biting chill continues, I’ll use up more timber than Muller’s prosecutorial investigation team has in paper pulp. We’re talking about the destruction of a national forest here.”

I’d share more but this a family publication.

It’s nice to see that so many of you are taking this cold snap with a sense of humor and not getting snarky about things you can’t control.

By the way, the forecast for this weekend is a warming trend.

Wouldn’t it be cool not to be so cool?

Nick can be reached at if he hasn’t fallen for another, “Double dog dare you!” at the school’s flag pole.


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