Coloradans call the winter ski visitors “turkeys.” The skiers are called this because their faces get sunburned from being on top of the mountain, basking in the state’s lovely winter sunshine, but the rest of their bodies remain winter white. Like turkeys. Well, sort of. Takes a bit of a stretch of the imagination. Hey, I didn’t come up with the term.
In Arizona, the winter visitors are called “snowbirds.” I didn’t come up with that term either. I just know that when I’m in Arizona, I’m one of them.
I recently read that the Phoenix area population increases by somewhere around 400,000 residents starting sometime in October or November and begins diminishing around Easter, mid-April to early May. As we were driving here recently, we passed many large RVs with license plates from Minnesota or Missouri or South Dakota. But having spent a couple of winters here, I can tell you that the population hasn’t peaked yet.
There are still no long lines to get into restaurants. The streets are relatively quiet. There were places to sit at Mass yesterday. But it won’t be long. And, much as I hate to admit it (seeings as they are me), the snowbirds really are enough to drive a sane man or woman mad. Many drive too slow (especially merging onto the freeways, where they somehow feel it is perfectly appropriate to merge at 25 mph). It takes forever to pay a bill at a restaurant or go through a check stand because each person needs to make sure they are getting the best deal they can get. And my husband refuses to sit at the front of a restaurant that is located in a mall parking lot because inevitably, every year there are stories about someone hitting the gas instead of the brake and driving through the front window of a storefront eatery.
But, my Arizona family and friends, I must remind you of that number – 400,000. That is a lot of people who are bringing money into your economy. So smile, put up with us, and just know that someday in the future (and it will come sooner than you think), you will also be coming up on 60 or 70 years old and having to watch your pennies.
Bill and I are headed back to Denver, but we will return soon to spend the cold months of winter here. When we return, I will try to maintain my speed, keep track of which is the accelerator and which is the brake, and slide over in the pew on Sunday.
In the meantime, my sister had us over for a bon voyage dinner of brats, corn on the cob, and pasta salad. Here is the recipe for the salad (photo and recipe courtesy of acedarspoon.com):
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
¾ of a box of pasta
½ green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
¼ c. corn (fresh or frozen)
½ c. grape tomatoes, halved
½ c. cilantro
¼ c. olive oil
2 T lime juice
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of oregano
Salt to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine beans, green pepper, red pepper, corn, and tomatoes, and mix well. Add pasta and continue to mix.
In a small food process, combine the cilantro, olive oil, lime, garlic powder and oregano. Blend well. Drizzle this dressing over the pasta salad and mix.
Serve immediately, or refrigerate.