Dorothy Harris

It’s that time of year again

I haven’t noticed yet, but surely it will become obvious over the next week or so, right? Snowbirds fly back north this time of year, although if I was one, I certainly would not head out yet. After all, there is still a possibility of cold weather for at least a few more weeks.

I marvel how folks switch back and forth for their homes, year after year. While being a snowbird is often the hallmark of above-average wealth, it’s also a lot of work. I feel for the ladies trying to button up one home down south, knowing after a week or so of weary travel, they’ll just be spending their day’s spring cleaning their northern abodes. When you consider the effort needed to clean out one house and then turn right around and open another, it just makes me tired.

Of course we must mention the men. I hear the guys do most, if not all, the driving. I’m not sure why, being a product of a younger generation more likely to share this responsibility, but it seems everyone is happier that way. Most wives I talk with are happy to catch up on a novel or be the navigator, rather than deal with traffic. They say their men prefer to drive, have always driven and that pretty much sums it up.

So while the wives have been creating mismatch meals to empty the fridge, the men have been prepping campers and cars. Wives clean, pack and clean some more. Like I said, it’s a lot of work. So much work, you wonder why they do this year after year.

Most of our snowbirds have found Sebring becomes home number two. They make friends here. They visit their local church or parish of the same denomination they visit at home. They set up bank accounts, pick favorite restaurants, golf courses, and of course find a hairdresser, veterinarian and a handful of favorite shops. They come and live amongst us for the winter, then depart for their summer homes.

That they return year after year, escaping the cold and snows for a sunny winter around the pool is reason enough to accept all the extra effort of the snowbird lifestyle I suppose. I wonder what would happen though if our snowbirds stopped visiting.

Some of you cheer this idea, delighted that travel on our local roadways would no longer be clogged by various vehicles adorned with northern state plates. It’s probably true that there would be fewer accidents and a lot less aggravation getting from one side of the county to the other. I wonder, though, how many of the businesses we frequent as we travel back and forth, would also soon be gone?

I hear from our local mom and pops it’s really hard to stay afloat throughout the summer months. The drop in business is less pronounced than years past, but noticeable nonetheless. Think about how many startup businesses you’ve frequented over the years that weren’t prepared for our long, slow summers. They start up and enjoy a winter of ringing registers only to find summer drags longer than their line of credit. It’s a scary proposition for many of our local merchants.

Keep them in mind as you breathe a sigh of relief driving our empty highways. Be sure to stop in at a local business next time you need something, because they need each and every one of us until the snow flies again next year.