Paula Damon

“Animals have three major strategies to survive cold temperatures: migration, hibernation and resistance (tolerance). Let’s explore [migration] in more detail….”Animal Adaptations for Winter, Michigan State University

Most people don’t like winter.

I am one.

Throughout more than four decades of tolerating blinding snow and brittle windchill here in the Upper Midwest, I’ve had a fantasy of one day escaping winter all together and migrating along with the birds to summer somewhere.

I’d “fly” south, my husband in tow, to a place of sun and surf, warm breezes, green grass and flowers blooming.

And it was this year when that day finally arrived – Jan. 28, 2019. It was minus 13. The air outside was so cold it hurt.

Braving the elements, we emerged from hibernation, bundled head-to-toe. Hardly recognizable with only our eyes exposed.

Pointing our car toward the Equator, we started driving.

As daylight melted morning darkness and our proximity to subzero grew exponentially, we began to molt, just like birds, shedding our feathers.

In Central Kansas or thereabouts, our down-filled coats and fur-trimmed hoods came off.

Crossing the Oklahoma State Line, we shed our gloves and neck scarves.

On the outskirts of Austin, Texas, on our way to San Antonio, we tossed our sweaters.

Just west of Corpus Christi, wool stocking caps become obsolete in bumper-to-bumper balmy weather some 19 hours straight-as-an-arrow south of winter.

Upon our arrival on South Padre Island, we found ourselves among a large gathering of many types and varieties of Snow Birds– all with the same idea – escape winter.

With our feathers unruffled, we managed to plan and plot our exit.

We are a tough brood weathered by a hard life of making ends meet.

Now, with a lighter load after traveling the distance, we arrived on the shores of fantasy, wearing an eternal smile for having finally landed.

Sporting summer gear, shorts, short sleeves and mirrored sunglasses, reflecting a tableland, where palm trees and cacti flourish.

I must admit, I really do like the idea of winter migration.

I think I understand why birds fly south at the same time every year.

But how will I know when to fly to the sun?

“As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within, if only we would listen…that tells us so certainly when to go forth into the unknown.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (The Wheel of Life, 1997)

Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning writer whose columns appear weekly in regional newspapers in the Upper Midwest. Over the years, the author’s works have garnered top honors, including her creative non-fiction chapbook “Look. Don’t Look.” – garnering First Place in the National Federation of Press Women’s 2017 writing competition. For more information, email boscodamon.paula@gmail.com.

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