Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Summer Exodus

The snowbirds have all gone home and Green Valley resembles a ghost town. I’ve talked to some of the people who live here all year round and they all say, “What a relief!” One woman said, “It’s like a vacation right here at home”. I asked her what it is a vacation from and she replied, “A vacation from all the people I see and the things I do. There’s just a lot more running around.” Well, Katie and I don’t have many friends here yet and we’re not involved in many activities so we haven’t been doing much running around. Maybe that’s coming. I do know I don’t have to wait for a machine at the fitness center now and the lap lanes at the pool are always available. We both retired last year and we’ve been in Arizona for about 6 months. There is no comparison between our life now and before retirement. Working full time and trying to fit in all the chores and activities around it, now that was running around. Everything is relative.
The few people we have met in our short time here are mostly snowbirds. Some of them we’re going to miss and some not so much. We’re especially not going to miss the couple who sits out on their patio and talks loudly to each other. They must have lived in a big mansion on ten acres of land. Well now they are living in little bitty Villas that are close to each other and I want to tell them to use their “inside voices” while they’re down here, but haven’t had the nerve yet. Much to my dismay the lady with the yappy dog didn’t leave. Her family back where ever she’s from probably didn’t like the yappy little dog either.
I think there might be a little jealousy on our part as well for some of the snowbirds. They are going north to cooler places that are closer to their families. Of the couples we know who’ve gone back home, one couple went to Seattle, one to Canon Beach, Oregon, one to the northern California coast and one to Alaska. All are extremely beautiful areas in the summer. I’m not as envious of the ones going to the mid-west and the east. Images of oppressive humidity, bugs and too many people pop into my brain. I guess I’ve become a “west coast person”.
I know that my feelings about the east are not completely accurate. How did I turn into such a western snob? Growing up in Missouri, I thought it was a wonderful place to be. I remember taking off with my dog or on my bike at all times of the year. I loved being in the outdoors and didn’t at all feel deprived. I had my first glimpses of the west on our summer family vacations. I think that’s when the west began to work its way deep into my soul--the snowcapped mountains, the cool night air and the smell of evergreen trees. I remember after returning home trying to imagine those same mountains in the background of my home town of Ferguson. Flat country held no romance for me. The mountains were filled with the possibility of exploration. When I eventually moved to the west, it changed me forever. I developed a lifestyle that included biking, hiking and camping. Love of the outdoors and the active life seems more common for adults in the west.
A few years ago Katie brought home to dinner a man from her work. He was a physical therapist who lived in Missouri, but worked all over the country. He drove around in an RV and filled in at hospitals and clinics where ever they were in need of a therapist. He was a nice man who loved his job and all the traveling around. He commented on a few things he’d noticed about west coast people versus people from the Midwest that he thought was strange. First of all he said he had never seen so many adults riding bikes, “Where I’m from in Missouri only the kids ride bikes.” He also asked, “Why does every one carry a back pack?” He said he was tempted to stop people and ask them what they carried around in those packs. “If I have my wallet and my keys, I’m good to go.” He noticed too, especially in Washington and Oregon, all the drive through coffee places on almost every corner. “Don’t you people have time to have a cup of coffee before leaving the house?” He thought it strange that people drove or walked around carrying coffee cups. “At home having a cup of coffee is a time to sit and relax or maybe visit with a friend.” This was a few years ago and this coffee phenomenon is spreading thanks to Starbucks, but I remember when we were visiting my relatives in Missouri frantically driving around in vain in search of a good latte.
I’ve lived in Oregon and Washington for most of my life and I’ve been known to grab my back pack, hop on my bike and ride to the nearest latte stand. I’m happy to report we have several good coffee shops in our area here in Green Valley. They are pretty empty though, now that the snowbirds are gone.

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