Nick Varney

Nick Varney

What’s next, ya ornery cuss?

Old Man Winter’s various personalities easily qualify as a layered howling mob of sociopaths.

The ancient patriarch in charge of the weather hasn’t missed a beat while hurling pages from his book of nastiness at us this winter. What’s worse? I think he has reveled in it.

Last Tuesday’s forecast promised bright skies with a touch of lofty clouds sailing through the atmosphere until they morphed into dazzling ice crystals as they dissipated over the bay. But, no. The temperamental curmudgeon wasn’t ready to exhibit a bit of mellow behavior and abruptly started sporting a mood darker than a birthday dude who received a set of lacy doilies for his man cave.

That morning I watched Kachemak Bay dance with white caps as increasing winds and heavy snow showers rolled in from the west depositing a freezing mist on our deck.

I took the unexpected weather condition personally and figured it was payback for some blistering invectives I shot his way a week ago when he abruptly decided to turn our neatly plowed driveway into something a speed skater couldn’t traverse without crampons.

I’m starting to think the grump has gone totally beast mode exhibiting profound multiple personality problems, nowadays referred to as “dissociative identity disorders” by elitist intellectual wonks who relish changing terminology just to annoy us.

Web MD defines a dissociative identity disorder as characterized by the presence of two or more distinct or split identities or personality states that continually have power over the person’s behavior. Old Man Winter’s various personalities easily qualify as a layered howling mob of sociopaths.

In the middle of February, we had to have our road plowed and then sanded in the same day. Talk about a wizened grump who couldn’t make up his icicled mind. It was enough to make a guy want to throw a handful of Prozac in the air just to see if he’d calm down.

I’ve ranged around Alaska enough not to be too surprised at what he flings at us and I should have figured that we were in for it when we experienced a winter limbo at the beginning of the season. Nothing but cold and a skiff or two of snow for weeks but I could hear him sniggering behind the mountains.

He kept chillin’ until he heard enough whining about the lack of snow and then dumped a bit to keep the crowd with winter toys happy and those with an opposite view complacent about the “mild winter”. Then, pow! The s.o.b. suddenly threw a left hook of howling winds and snow to get us on the ropes. We toughed it out until the devious &*%^#*^ landed huge uppercuts of snowmageddons that staggered us as we tried to get to our rig’s without inelegantly pirouetting on veiled ice that ended up as unseemly face-plants.

Awhile back, we experienced one of those nefarious winter scenarios where it snowed, rained, froze and then lightly snowed again overnight.

When 5 a.m. rolled around our two mutts became antsy and decided they couldn’t wait for their normal foray into the wild for their delicate duties.

I hadn’t had a drop of coffee and my mental acuity was less than the throw rug I was standing on. Needless to say, neither was I at my athletic peak when I opened the door and stepped outside with the curs.

Not a cool move. Just like an unfortunate incident a few years back, I stepped onto the deck and into outer space.

The next thing I knew I was gazing into the eyes of a very concerned mini mutt and something resembling a half-grown musk ox with breath that could down a wolverine while something sounding like an insidious chuckle arose from the roaring wind.

It took me a second to realize that the look in their eyes wasn’t concern. They were freezing their butts off and I was the only one who knew how to operate the door knob. If it would have been Jane, the critters would have tested the footing, recommended ice cleats and cleared a trail down the steps.

Anyway, I’ve changed my ways. I no longer snort scurrilous remarks about Old Man Winter’s lineage when I’m trying to lurch my way to the truck. I just smile and suck it up. Maybe this way I’ll make through this winter without getting anymore bruises the size of a size 16 boot on my keister.

Sure, I will …

Nick can be reached at

More in Life

Bacon is prepared on a fire pit, June 19, 2020, in the Copper River Valley, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Eating from fire

My attitude toward camp cooking is that you can eat pretty much anything you would eat at home.

Irene Lampe dances a robe for its First Dance ceremony at the Sealaska Heritage Institute on Monday, June 22, 2020. (Courtesy photo | Annie Bartholomew)
Weavers celebrate new robe with first dance

The event is part of a resurgent trend for traditional weaving.

Kalifornsky Kitchen: Summer traditions

Over the years, a paella feed has marked momentous occasions, like moving or birthday parties.

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Looking in the rearview mirror

I stepped through a time warp last week.

Concert on Your Lawn revives spirit of KBBI festival

The concert came about after the pandemic forced KBBI to cancel a planned Solstice weekend concert.

Minister’s Message: Finding hope in dark times

A life lived without hope is like a life lived without love.

Morel pasta is enjoyed outside on May 19, 2019, near Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Morels all the ways

When the Swan Lake Fire started, we knew we had an opportunity to get even more morels.

This portrait—one of few that Richard Shackelford reportedly allowed to be published—graced the 1909 commencement booklet for the California Polytechnic School, of which he was the president of the Board of Trustees. (Photo courtesy Clark Fair)
A tale of Two Shacklefords, in a way — part three

Untangling the origins of Shackleford Creek’s name.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: It’s all in the game

It’s amazing what a deck of cards or a set of dice can teach a young person.

Kachemak Cuisine: Find comfort in hard times by cooking good food

The first tastes of spring for me are rhubarb, fresh-caught fish from Kachemak Bay and chives.

Fiddlehead ferns shooting up from the ground, on May 24 in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Foraging for fiddleheads

Springtime in Alaska is the beginning of foraging season for me.