Friday, March 13, 2009

The Secret Life of Snowbirds

by Phil Houseal as published in the Kerrville TX Community Journal Mar 18, 2009

Goodbye! Goodbye!

I heard the cries from the door to the classroom where the latest dulcimer class was just finishing.

It was spring, and one of our adult students was heading back north.

A snowbird?

"Oh yes," he said. "I come every winter, and this year I just had to take this dulcimer class - it is the only one offered in the hill country!"

Why not move to Kerrville and stay, I asked him.

"Grandkids," was his one word answer.

The encounter got me thinking about the phenomenon of "snowbirdhood." Having lived here for 30 years, I have come across snowbirds in other aspects of my life. A large group gathers in Fredericksburg to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity. We used to have a clowning instructor who would teach for us, as long as it was between Oct and March.

The whole concept of snowbirding appeals in a bittersweet way.

It is always sad to have to say goodbye to friends you have met and known for several months. Yet it must be an exciting existence, like leading a double life. In summer you bump around the Midwest dressed in overalls. But each winter you travel to that exotic locale - "the south."

(As a former yankee, I understand the appeal of living half the year - the cold half - in the warm, sunny south, where you can wear shorts on Christmas day and plant your garden in February. To a Midwesterner, that's like imagining living on the moon and being able to jump six times higher - simply incomprehensible.)

You'd like to think that snowbirds would invent a wholly different life to go with their southern residence. An engineer in Nebraska might become a secret agent in Texas. An English teacher could become a best-selling author of steamy romance novels.

But that doesn't happen. I've noticed that wherever you travel physically, you drag your personality and comfort zones with you. A homebody in South Dakota will also stick close to the RV while parked at the edge of the Grand Canyon. We haul our worldview even into the virtual world. While taking a class on Second Life - an online world where you create an avatar that represents the real you - our students would tend to build "mini-me's," perhaps making the hair a shade darker and trimming a few pounds off the mid-section.

But our personalities don't change, whether we are stalking the plowed fields of Kansas, padding through the bluebonnets of Texas, or soaring in an electronic sky.

So here is to snowbirds! Long may they fly, though sad when they flee, and all we wish for them is that the day they alight, let it be in Club Ed, Texas!


Snowbirds can take a Club Ed class from anywhere in the world! For information or to sign up, click, or call 830-895-4386.

Club Ed is the Community Education program of the Kerrville Independent School District. Each year, we offer more than 400 classes throughout the Texas Hill Country, along with online courses, business and individual training, and after-school and summer camps. Comment online at

1 comment:

Deb Peterson said...

Hi Phil,
I'm the Guide to Continuing Education at, part of the New York Times Company. I love your article and blogged about you and Club Ed today:

Deb Peterson