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Around the Bluhmin’ Town


Judy Bluhm

It must be nice to be a snowbird. You know, living the good life in Arizona during our beautiful winters and then heading north in April to some distant place that offers cool summer days with high temperatures of seventy-five degrees. A few locals grumble about the snowbirds, but those crabby people forget how wonderful it is to have 400,000 winter visitors who come here and shop, eat out, rent, buy, volunteer, and make our communities a whole lot more fun and interesting.

Our winter visitors are quite an economic engine, to the tune of about six billion dollars a year! They are collectively beginning to pack up and make the long trek back north. I will notice their absence when I go to the grocery store, or realize there are fewer folks walking around our trails, and some places of business will get eerily quiet by the beginning of May. We, the Zonies who are left behind, must grapple with the coming inferno, triple digits, and haboobs. It takes strength and stamina to live through a summer in Phoenix.

Actually, the lucky (courageous) residents who reside in Phoenix all year long know how to live in the desert. We don’t lay out in the sun, never buy cheap rubber thongs, rarely go out shopping at high noon, and pretty much have our own escape plans figured out by May. There is a cabin in Flagstaff or a beach in San Diego a short drive away! We may not be snowbirds, but we still know how to fly the coop during those dog days of summer.

Perhaps we can all learn from the snowbirds. You know, they seem to have it figured out how to live in two distinct worlds. It appears that they have a good time in retirement. Of course, too many of them have a little bit too much fun. Take Quartzsite, for example. Here is a place where the winter visitors come down in their RVs, play cards, watch movies, and quite a few seem to act like college kids gone wild. Maybe they are drinking too much vodka out of those little jelly jars. How else might we explain why a shop owner likes to show up to work naked (I am not making this up) only wearing a gun holster? Oh, and when the snowbirds leave town to head back north, they tend to throw their undies in the bushes and trees! Grannies and Grandpas should keep their bloomers on! Old folks – wear clothes to work! Do not party like rowdy teenage kids!

I have had a few snowbirds ask me how I “survive” during the summer in Arizona. Well, I try and tell them there is nothing like a monsoon roaring in at dusk with a lightning show that is worth sitting in a lawn chair to watch. Or how fun it can be to play golf at seven in the morning with no one around. Or how invigorating it can be to walk in the brisk (90 degrees) morning dawn. And there are so many cool places to get to in less than two hours. Okay, so we get dust storms and it’s too dang hot. But sunshine, a few cold drinks, plenty of ice, and maybe a pool to jump in make it all pretty special.

Soon, our friends from South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Canada will be packing up their vehicles and leaving our fair state. They may have homes, farms, family and friends waiting for them. And gradually, the Valley of the Sun will become a quieter and less crowded place. Those of us left behind will brace ourselves for what’s to come. Snowbirds, we will miss you. So Godspeed in your travels. But please, keep your knickers on when you leave!

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at