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Art Lee: Takes a little getting used to. . .

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columns Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

We recently joined the Great Migration of southern Snowbirds returning to their northern homes. The change is part nostalgia (“Ah, Home Sweet Home”)  and part economic (Yikes! These seasonal monthly rents are outrageous!”). So once the high monthly rental payments expire on March 31, it’s pack-up- time and out-of-there-time. Fly North!  Time to re-enter another world. This process of both going and coming takes a little getting used to —at both destinations. Let’s just say that there’s a bit of difference between living in northern Minnesota and southern Arizona. Norway Pines are not comparable to Saguaro Cacti.

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Takes a little getting used to hearing the clerks in the stores speak better Spanish than English. And/or the signs over grocery-store items in two languages. And the local t-v offering three Spanish-speaking stations. Then again one-third of the population in the city of Tucson —now with one million people —have Hispanic backgrounds.

Newly arrived Snowbirds to the Southwest often march off that first day wearing a short-sleeved shirt and no jacket while at the same time observe some locals wearing heavy winter coats and scarves and sometimes mittens. After all it’s 65 degrees outside!(?)  What’s wrong with those folks?  They don’t know what cold is!  So each side often regards the other as strange. And sometimes more, as suggested by a curious auto -license-plate- holder that had a line at the top reading: TOO MANY SNOWBIRDS. And at the bottom it read:  NOT ENOUGH FREEZERS.

In those non-winter winter months in Tucson, the U of A basketball team gets top billing. And that’s an understatement.

University basketball seems less a sport in Tucson then a religion. Their arena seats almost 16,000 spectators and it was filled for every single home game — none of which UA lost. Ranked No. 1 in the U.S. at the start of the season  — and  ranked No. 1again before the next season even starts — it’s front-page news daily.

Big Time and Big Bucks. The President of the University gets pocket-change -salary compared to the basketball coach who makes over $2 million a year.

For the players, UA is regularly a stepping stone to the pros. For many players it’s one-and-you’re-done, that is a player must play one year before he can drop out of school and sign a contract with the NBA. One such UA player this spring is soon to sign a two-year contract with an NBA team for which he will receive $5 million. He’s 18 years old.

Takes a little getting used to reading the morning paper about yet one more local murder in the pattern of one murder a day. And if no murder one day, likely two the next to make up for it. So get used to it. (?) There are so many cars stolen each day (‘bout 150) that such common larceny is not worthy of newspaper news. Ho hum.

And of course there’s the required discussions of the two most important items in any community: 1) weather 2) potholes. Letters-to-the-editor wax vehemently on much needed pot-hole repairs —or the lack thereof. And always and forever THE WEATHER. This year’s “winter” temps in Tucson were about 10 degrees above normal, hence 70’s in February and 80’s  in March and 90’s in April. So what’s there for people to complain about?  Why, of course — get ready — it’s too darn hot!

Evesdropping recently on a conversation between two locals standing in line at a cash-register found one complaining about the heat while the agitated other man disagreed and added:  “Hot!  It ain’t hot now. Wait a little while when it will hit l00 and stay that way for two weeks in a row!  Yup, that’s hot; that’s when you wish you lived up North.”

We couldn’t wait for 100; we left for the North Country the next week.

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