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While driving to work today, it dawned on me I have never written about the curious phenomena of the migration of snowbirds.

“Snowbirds” is the nickname for the people who live half the year in Phoenix and half the year elsewhere – usually the Midwest or Canada. These goose-like beings start to land in mid-October and they stay until April or May (depending how cold it is ‘back home’). They are usually elderly – apparently the young of the species have alternative migratory patterns; they flock to other regions, like Europe, in the summer.

I am first aware of their arrival by the sudden surge of morning commute travel. Literally overnight, there are more people on the road as I drive to work. This makes me wonder – where the heck are all these retirees going at 7AM? If I was retired (worse luck that I ain’t!)  I would sleep in a little longer than that.  Perhaps they are going golfing or to early breakfast specials.

I am told I should appreciate their presence, for they bring a lot of money to the area. Truth be told, many snowbirds are a nuisance.  Clogging up the roads is inconvenient, but interacting with them can be unpleasant. As a flock they are rather demanding and not very well-mannered. These oldsters seem more self-centred and less ‘sage like’ than the previous generation. In restaurants and in stores they tend to cut lines.  In contrast, snowbirds of the Canadian variety are younger than their American counterparts – and they have better manners.

Ironically, I want to retire to someplace with proper seasons: rain, and – wait for it – snow. I guess that makes me a very rare bird indeed. What is my genus/species I wonder.  You are welcome to conjure me up a name for this going-against-the-traffic migratory pattern.

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October 2011

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