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Snowbird at 29

December 31, 2009

Reasons to take a break from Kansas City and head south for the winter, no matter what your age

bill-dottie in florida.JPGSomewhere between New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day lies the dead of winter, a cold, gray span of time that seems to linger far longer than it should.  It’s the time of year after the first pristine snowfalls of the season have come and gone, leaving piles of dirty snow on the medians and unexpected patches of ice on the shaded ground.  Gloomy skies, slushy roads, icy sidewalks, bone-chilling winds and “winter mixes” of rain, ice and snow are a daily reminder that you’d rather be at home sleeping.  Kansas City, blessed with the beauty of all the changing seasons, gets it’s fair share of  “should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?“ (to quote Albert Camus) weather.  People start to bicker more often, complexions go from a healthy glow to a cabin-fever pale and the -4 degree wind chill factor offers a perfect excuse to not get out and exercise.  Personally, I’m of the opinion that if it’s chilly enough to make my teeth feel cold, I should be home in bed, under several layers of blankets.

Men and women of leisure have been ditching the cold weather and migrating to warmer climates for decades, but why wait until you’re retired to wise up?  I decided to buck the trend and at 29 embrace my Snowbird lifestyle. Slipping out of Kansas City between snowstorms, I zipped up my coordinated nylon tracksuit, popped in a Maeve Binchy audio book, slipped on a pair of giant wrap-around sunglasses and hit the highway at a solid 50 MPH.  While driving I contemplated the top reasons to become a Snowbird, regardless of age:

-       Drinking. Spending the winter months in a tropical climate like Florida, where the seasons mostly consist of sunny and hot or sunny and less hot, allows for all kinds of typical vacation behavior any day of the week.  Want a drink at 11 AM Christmas morning? Not a problem! If you’re in Florida and it has rum and orange juice in it, it’s perfectly acceptable to partake. And viola, the Florida Holiday Mimosa was born this year.

Florida Holiday Mimosa

1 oz. Mango Rum

1.5 oz. Florida Orange Juice

2 oz. Tonic Water

Pour rum, OJ, and tonic over ice in whatever clean glass you can find. Stir and serve.  Repeat as often as necessary until family is pleasantly aglow with holiday cheer.

-       Ice? Not so much. Most of us prefer our ice crushed with a tasty beverage poured over it.  The farther south you go, the only way it comes is crushed or cubed and that’s fine by me.  It’s comforting to know that when living it up in the south, you don’t have to worry about icy roads or sidewalks.  You’re less likely to run your car into a ditch after hitting an icy patch, although running your car into a ditch after hitting the bar has been known to happen.

-        Fashion. In Kansas City warm winter clothing is a necessity that quickly gets old as the weather calls for more and more bulky layers.  In more temprate climates, winter clothing is a fun novelty!  People take full advantage of each and every chance to don jaunty scarves or hats.  Grateful to be outside and not sweating, Floridians love to pair unlikely items like fur-lined Ugg boots and super short jean skirts.  So feel free to mix it up; Parka and speedo, why not? Mukluks and a sundress? Yes please!


3 Responses to “ Snowbird at 29 ”

  1. Kate on January 2, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    About 5 years ago I left cold and cruel Missouri for a seasonal job in Florida. I worked as a bartender in a resort and the job ran from the first of November until the first of May. This left me with the opportunity to go back to Missouri and work for a catering company during their busy season. If you aren’t involved in a career you don’t want to leave it is entirely possible to be a young snowbird. I’m now an official year round Floridian, but there are plenty of younger people who come to cater to the retired snowbirds and head back north in the spring. By the way, it’s a very chilly 65 degrees here today.

  2. Carol on January 15, 2010 at 2:42 pm


    After reading the “Florida Holiday Mimosa” recipe, I understand why most of the BIG BOTTLE of Mango Rum disappeared while you were home for Christmas (but we all thought those “FHM’s” were yummy!) A new family tradition has been born (along with the shooting practice after dinner at your Dad’s).


  3. Renee on January 15, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    I do what I can :)