Being A Snowbird Is Great… Until It Gets Cold!


“Cold enough for ya?” Are you tired of hearing that, too? Well, hopefully, the worst is behind us.

As you may know, I am in year two of my “Snowbird Experiment,” in which I spend the coldest of winter days in the south and the hottest of summer days in the north. Over the last few months, however, it hasn’t been working out.

The tradition seems to be that, having seen both snow and the grandchildren, retirees leave the north at a mutually-agreed-upon time after Dec. 26 not yet being shared with me. Or maybe I missed the call because I was wrapped up (literally) in shopping the sales, stocking up on gift wrap, bows and cards that I will not be able to find next December.

The stores count on this. They don’t want to house that garbage all year — better to disperse it into the closets and attics of the teeming masses. And I like to help out retailers as much as I can. No, I am not a shopaholic. A hoarder, maybe.

So Dec. 26 was fun — shopping and eating lunch at the mall. I like that.

But I did notice that it was unseasonably cold — like one degree Fahrenheit.

As a burgeoning snowbird, I have noticed that one of the things I really miss when I’m out of Florida is the carefree attitude toward apparel. We wear shorts, flip-flops, maybe a shirt. Even in church.

This past December, I found myself wearing not only long pants, boots and a sweater, but earmuffs, gloves and (get this) a coat! This layering idea is very popular up north.

“Just wear layers! Then you’re ready for anything!”

The hypothesis is that we waddle around like mummified ducks when we’re outside. Then, when inside, peel back the layers until we’re comfortable. To me, that’s when I’m down to shorts, flip-flops and maybe a shirt. I do get looks.

Not only that, but what do you do with all those layers? And can you really leave your boots with the coat check girl?

So I staged a rebellion of sorts, wearing slacks and a sweatshirt inside, outside, all around town. No heavy outerwear for me!

The result? I was freezing most of the time.

And temperatures plummeted to below freezing on Dec. 22 and stayed there.

Not me.

The minute the car was de-iced and I could chisel my way over to it, we packed that baby up and headed for the Sunshine State.

Here’s another thing the Sunshine State has that the north does not — sunshine. I don’t understand everything about the curvature of the earth and the trends of the seasons, but I do know that when the sun goes down, I get tired and want to go to bed. When the sun disappears at 4:45 p.m., I am nothing more than a hibernating bear. I burrow down in my dark cave, cursing the darkness and living off my body fat. In the morning, I wake up ravenous and spend the day working to recover my precious fat in time to go to bed 7.5 hours later.

That is no way to live.

Aside from the overwhelming urge to spend the days doing nothing but sleeping and eating, my experiment taught me that snowbirds are otherwise smart — smart enough to come to Florida every single winter.

It’s why they go back that I can’t really grasp.