Today my lovely wife, my dad and I went to a "New Hampshire Day," gathering here in Florida. For my dad, it was school reunion day. My wife and I ran into our neighbors from home. They come south at the first sign of really cold weather, and don't head north until the north warms again. Turns out we drive right past their winter home on the way to launching our sailboat. Small world and all that.
The whole snowbird phenomena is a product of several things that are quickly fading away. Of course, one thing is the retirement pension. Having a monthly source of income requiring no further work is a great thing. Unfortunately, it's a rarer thing. The traditional defined benefit plan is going the way of the dodo.
Then there is that the recurring issue, the disappearance of cheap energy. Travel was cheap and easy. Now, it's getting more expensive almost daily.
Historically, many peoples were semi-nomadic. The New England Native Americans would winter by the coast and move inland during warmer weather. Many herding people traveled from grazing land to grazing land, repeating the same circuit year after year. Other people followed animal migrations, or the availability of certain fruits and nuts. People always traveled, but distances were limited to walking distances, or animal transportation. A few others traveled by watercraft.
Today, it felt like we were seeing one of the last big snowbird migrations. My generation (early 50s) probably won't become snowbirds in the numbers my dad's generation did. We won't have the money, time or cheap energy. Winter's going to be long and cold for most of them.
Of course, things could turn out very different. Maybe there will be real train service once more, or sailing passenger ships will return.
Interesting times ahead.
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