We call them "snow birds", those people who flee the colder winters in the northern United States and in Canada to spend four to six months here (between October and March). Increasingly we see "snow birds" from the U.K., Germany, and Scandinavia.
Of course we complain about the problems they cause: "too much traffic", and crowded restaurants.
(In the case of SRQ our complaints about traffic jams would make anyone from a big City convulse into laughter!).
We complain, but we are glad that they spend and spend - filling the State coffers with Sales Tax income.
My neighbour Eddie P has already left for North Carolina. His partner Ed G. will follow soon. We went out for valedictory dinner last Tuesday.
My good friend (and retired Episcopal Priest) Fred E will be going up to Maine very soon (his wife Diana following later). The three of us will have lunch together on Tuesday.
Muriel is a friend from Church (who has the great advantage of being English!). She will be off to Rhode Island after Easter Day, so we'll have our au revoir lunch on Thursday.
I have previously mentioned my fine neighbours Polly (90) and Bert (86). (They are the people who have a lovely cat who has created an unusual friendship with my dog). Bert and Polly will soon be leaving to be with their children in Indianapolis. Polly shows every sign of age related senility so I will be very surprised if they return in autumn 2014.
Bob and Virginia are a couple from West Virginia. They must be in their 70's or 80's. They walk for five miles each morning. I frequently encounter them in my early morning walks with Penne. They will be going home to WVA soon. I will miss our chit-chat.
As I have walked out I've also gotten into chit-chat with Vince and Helen, a very handsome couple in their late 60's. They hold hands as they walk, and I caused them to grin one day a few years ago when I asked "do your parents know that you are holding hands?". That broke the ice and enabled us to greet one another with a grin and a few passing words.
Vince has a very gentle accent which indicates that English is not his native language. I never ask people about their accents, because it does not matter, and because I get mildly annoyed when folks are sure that my accent is Irish or Australian (as is frequently the case).
(There is a man at Church who always greets me with "how are you doing Michael me boy?" in what he thinks is an Irish accent. I've had enough of this, so a few weeks ago I said "why do you greet me that way? I am English by birth, not Irish" SO THERE)
I know that Helen and Vince are snow birds. Since I had not seen them in a couple of weeks I thought that they'd already returned to Nebraska, Ohio, Indiana or some other god-forsaken State.
But there they were, large as life and full of smiles - walking around the pond this afternoon. I said "I thought that you had gone home already, in which State do you spend the summer, and when will you leave?".
They told me that they will be going "home" for the summer in about ten days, and that "home" is The Czech Republic from where Vince hails. (Helen is American by birth). SO NOW I KNOW the source of Vince's delightful accent.
I advised them not to go into Prague since it will be filled with American and British tourists. They grinned and ventured that on any given day in the summer there can be up to 50,000 tourists in Prague. Helen added that she sometimes likes to go there so that she can hear some spoken English!