The Snow Bird Experiences Winter

My grandpa used to be a true Minnesotan. A member of the Minnesota Senate for 20 years, the Senator couldn’t have gotten much more Minnesotan. He has grown older and wiser and now, in his retired years, he packs his bags and retreats to Florida for the winter. This makes the wimp less than half Minnesotan in my opinion.

I apologize for sounding resentful. After all, Gramps does extend an invite to any family member wanting to pay a visit to “The Sunshine State” every winter. However, it’s tough not to feel a little bitter. Sure, the winter weather alone is enough to make anyone a little sour, but hearing from Grandpa during the winter can be aggravating.

Don’t get me wrong. Grandpa worked hard and deserves to fully enjoy his retirement, but before you call me a spoiled little grandkid, you must understand. For the last eight winters, Gramps has kept relatives and friends very informed of the weather 1,700 miles south of home. Grandpa’s emails contain statements such as, “it’s a chilly one here today – no sunshine and only 65 degrees!” Or “I had to break out a sweatshirt last night when I took my walk down to the beach,” or “today isn’t the day to be out by the pool… it’s slightly overcast.”

Receiving his emails are his frigid Minnesotan friends and relatives. These emails scatter into our inboxes late November through early March – when our nights are often up to 100 degrees colder than Grandpa’s declaration of a “chilly” night.

After years of hiding away from what leads most of us to a bit of insanity, minor cases of depression and extreme frustration, it seems Gramps has forgotten what a real winter is like. But he has lived here all his life – how could you forget, right?

Wrong. People want to forget the dreadful events of winter – the car problems, furnace complications, shoveling injuries, trouble doing anything other than lying around like a toy with dead batteries. We forget how terrible winter really is. Why else would we claim year after year that “this year is the worst that it has ever been”? We forget about winter over the span of nine months, and Grandpa hasn’t experienced a Minnesota winter in eight years!

However, this year is different. This week, Grandpa will fly back to the arctic north for a short time.

Preparing to come back to St. Paul, Grandpa sent an email to another grandchild, questioning whether a pair of gloves would be needed during his visit. Well Gramps, I hate to break it to ya, but you might want to bring a few pairs of gloves – this winter stuff isn’t for sissies!

I’m looking forward to reading what Gramps writes about the overcast, chilly days the Minnesota winter provides. I’m sure he’ll join us in affirming that this winter is indeed “the coldest it has ever been.” Without a doubt, he’ll make it through and head back to Florida to continue his weather updates this winter.

I shouldn’t complain. After all, flipping through photos of my very tan grandpa enjoying a beer in the sunshine on an ocean-facing patio gives me something to do while waiting for the load of long johns to dry because the car won’t turn over and I had nothing else to do.

Shootin’ the Wit is a column about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.