Time to head north
Our small section of Green Valley, AZ, is emptying out as folks from South Dakota, British Colombia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, a huge contingent of Ontario folks and yes, many from Michigan, head back home because well, they think winter has ended there.
You know that April Fool's Day snowstorm y'all got in Northern Michigan? Don't want to see it, feel it, experience it -- which is why we stay here through the end of April.
Being a snowbird means you're balanced between two worlds.
Home, Petoskey, where your friends are and your job was, your responsibilities lie, your house is and your neighbors are wonderful. Green Valley, where you also have friends, things to do (except work) and there are no anchors on what you do.
Golf? Sure! Hike? Of course! Pickleball? Wouldn't be without it!
Being a snowbird is having a life in a parallel universe.
It is not, as some think, having a long vacation. We're not vacationing here, we're living here.
Bills need to be paid, the house cleaned, groceries bought, mail hauled in and books picked up at the library. The car needs washing, laundry needs doing, the patio kept clean and the rock landscaping free of leaves and errant pieces of cactus (really!).
You make new friendships, based initially on being among the lucky ones who can escape for the winter and shared interests. People in your neighborhood form a surrogate community because we are all away from home and thus this becomes our community.
Pity the locals.
Like invading locusts, we suck up the parking spaces at Safeway, produce out-the-door lines at the post office and strip the books from the shelves at the local branch of the Pima County Library, making our library one of the busiest in the whole system. Tee times are hard to find at the area golf courses and of course green fees match the scarcity.
And then -- poof! -- the roads clear, parking spots show up at
the grocery stores and those green fees? Well, they finally start to drop, too.
It is the end of another snowbird winter but we all said to one another, see you next winter!
The young ones
One of the joys of my years at the News-Review was watching young members of the community go off to college and then -- either immediately or after a short time in the "big world out there" -- come back home to take up positions in the family business or to start their own.
So it is wonderful to welcome Katie Capaldi to that fine group as she takes over ownership of Between the Covers: A Book Cellar in downtown Harbor Springs.
At 29 she's a veteran of the book business, having worked in bookstores since she was 12. She knows books, but more importantly, she knows how to connect the right book with the right reader.
I'm sure she will do well in her new role as business owner.
But what her decision points out, and what the other "returnees" show, is an intangible that many communities just don't have.
These young people are making their decision to stay here or return here because there's a future here. They feel they can succeed -- indeed, even thrive -- in a place where they grew up and where they'd still like to be and call home.
There are any number of communities in Michigan where the opposite is true, where young people see their future elsewhere because there is no future in their hometown. That's sad, but it's reality.
So patronize these businesses and support these young people so their faith in us as a community is rewarded.
Trust me, we're a better community because of them.
Kendall P. Stanley is retired editor of the Petoskey News-Review. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.