My maternal grandparents were snowbirds; the scent of their plumage an evergreen air freshener dangling off the rearview mirror of a Cadillac. As with all snowbirds, they were white. This helped them blend into their creamy plush interior, a southwest trajectory taking them farther into lands of brown and green. The flight of snowbirds flaps to a bossa nova beat: snowbirds, shuffleboard, snowbirds, shuffleboard. There are outposts across America down every alcove into the Baja peninsula; RV nests snug under striped awnings, wafts of hibachi smoke and prime time tv shows an outlet away as gray whales breed and breech a mile offshore. It is amazing what we have learned we need to live with. As a boy perched atop my grandparents’ enclosed patio the snowbirds sang out to each other forty feet up through spiny courtyard trees. The call of the snowbirds. Their names have long since turned into historical references – Agnes, Mabel, Cora, Mina – feline frames on swinging link chains, ankles thick with water and weight. Children, grandchildren, signs of the cross: signify the snowbird. My family flew with the snowbirds for years; six of us drafting on eighteen wheeler currents. A paneled station wagon stuffed with swimsuits, snorkels, eye drops and playing cards; despite daily divisions, united in flight. And my grandparents, those snowbirds, greeted us in powder blue plaids, pastels, seldom seen elbows and knees. Lovingly showed us their pool, their games, tidy early bird food and flock. The world of the snowbird. My maternal grandparents were snowbirds, now gone, so forgive me if I see a vision of them through these snowy poem branches: side by side, taking flight, slipping this cold winter cage for the comfort of warmer climes.
Copyright © Peter Conners
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