The snowbird season is ending, and soon I’ll be covering my toilets in Lake Worth, Florida, in plastic wrap so the water won’t evaporate while I’m back home at my roost in East Northport. In a few days, my husband, Herb, and I will fly from Palm Beach to Islip, and fingers crossed, snow will be just a memory on the Island.
Sure, it’s lovely to sit on a beach in the winter, putting on sun block, especially when snow is falling back home. But being a Florida snowbird isn’t all fun in the sun. During “the season,” “rounders” (year-round residents) accuse snowbirds of causing aggravation and inconveniences like colds, traffic and even cold weather.
I’ve heard snowbirds blamed for being too loud in restaurants, complaining about seating, service and food. And I don’t understand why, but when seasonal residents join homeowner association snowbird clubs, rounders call us cliquish.
It’s not enough that we’re not the first picks for top-tier golf, mah-jongg and pickle games in condominium communities because we’re not available year-round.
At Villaggio, my own over-55 adult community, snowbirds are allowed to hold positions on our board of directors, but according to our co-president, John Ferrandino, a former snowbird from Rockland County, none have done so. According to Ferrandino, a snowbird ran for the board for the first time this year, but lost.
In his comic novel set in Great Neck and Boca, “The Global War on Morris,” former Rep. Steve Israel calls the insecurity seasonal residents feel “snowbird anxiety disorder.”
Well, my own SAD kicked in soon after I arrived in Lake Worth in late November. One December afternoon when the Florida temperature had dropped to 68 degrees, I silently gloated by the Villaggio clubhouse pool after I got a text from my daughter Terri in Commack that my East Northport driveway was being plowed. I was sitting with a rounder, my BFF, Fran Schwartz, and she killed my buzz. This former snowbird lived across the hall from me 50 years ago in Flushing. Now she lives across the street in Lake Worth. She was draped in a beach towel to keep warm and began kvetching about the chilly Florida weather.
“Carol, you people brought down this cold snap,” she said.
I reminded Fran that, years back, she was “you people,” complaining about being relegated to a snowbird canasta game. She said she didn’t remember, and added insult to injury, saying, “After you, um, I mean, the snowbirds, leave, Florida is more civilized.”
“Civilized?” I asked.
She explained that after the season, it’s easier to get prime-time restaurant reservations, and there’s less traffic on the Florida Turnpike.
By spring, I think rounders are ready to celebrate our departure. I saw a bumper sticker in Boca Raton that said “Happiness in South Florida is a loaded car carrier heading North.”
So after a winter of hearing complaints, I’m ready to return to my roots. And my Long Island friends and family who lived through the harsh winter sound welcoming.
But tell me if I’m paranoid. When I phone home these days, I hear a familiar refrain. The Long Island rounders I know say that though the snow wasn’t wonderful, there were pluses: There were fewer long lines on Saturday night at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, last-minute orchestra seats were available at the Tilles Center, and the traffic on the Long Island Expressway wasn’t awful — because thousands of snowbirds were gone.
So, yeah, the price of wintering in Florida is that snowbirds get no respect, no matter where we land.
Reader Carol Cott Gross lives in East Northport — most of the year.