Deer Park’s snowbirds ‘fixin’ to head home again

Published 3:00 am Saturday, March 12, 2016

Snowbirds from the midwest and Canada have gathered at Deer Run RV Park every winter for the past six to eleven years. They’ve been picking up bits and pieces of the Southern way every year.

Snowbirds from the midwest and Canada have gathered at Deer Run RV Park every winter for the past six to eleven years. They’ve been picking up bits and pieces of the Southern way every year.

The snowbirds, who have wintered at Deer Run RV Park, are “fixin’” to go to back to the Midwest but they’ll be back with the first flakes of winter snow.

And, the Canadian gander, Sue Spires from Shelburne, Ontario, will be back, too.

They’ve all been wintering in Alabama for six to 11 years and counting. They have fallen in love with the “politeness” of Southern people, the warm, sunny winter days and the food, the “greasy, greasy fried food.”

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Several of them, those who can sit still long enough, have even learned to quilt and to enjoy it while they are “down South.” But, what they enjoy most is the Southern hospitality and, in return, they have done their dead-level best to learn to speak the language of the South.

“We are now bilingual,” said Jennifer McCullah of Canada Lakes, Michigan. “We speak Southern. We say ‘y’all when we are talking about more than one person and we and have almost learned when we are ‘fixin’ to do something.”

Spires could one-best her cross-state Michigan friend.

Not only can she say y’all with a Southern drawl, she can also say “purdy dawg” and “y’all’s purdy dawg.”

The true test of assimilation, said Anita Johns of Brundidge, will be when the snowbirds say, “Are y’all fixin’ to go in the car?”

The snowbirds will leave for places north this weekend and, their friends at the Colley Senior Complex tipped “cheers and best wishes” with coffee cups on their last day of 2016 at the senior center.

Ester Volz was saying goodbye to Bama for the 11th year.

When scouting the southern part of the country for a place to winter, she and her husband, Dale, passed through Alabama on their way to Florida. But, the friendliness and generosity they had experienced in Alabama won them over.

“And, we’ve been coming to Alabama every year since,” Volz said.

The other snowbirds echoed Volz’s love and appreciation for Alabama.

Most of the snowbirds that spend the winter months at Deer Run, come south after Christmas and return home around the beginning of March.’

Between the coming and going, they ascribe to the phrase, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

“We become as Southern as we can,” McCullah said. “We enjoy going to different places, seeing different things and eating … everything.”

The snowbirds all said it didn’t take them or their husbands long to learn that Southerners cook with something called grease and it adds real flavor to the food.

“We love Crowe’s and the Chicken Shack in Luverne,” Rogers said. “And, Sisters and the Old  Barn and Red’s. We even went to a little restaurant with the funny name. What was it?”

In unison, the snowbirds and the Colley girls said, “It Don’t Matter!”

The Highland Home restaurant has imprinted the snowbirds with “It Don’t Matter.”

And, they will also go back to their Michigan and Canadian homes with a greater knowledge of bluegrass and Southern gospel music.

If they were Southerners the snowbirds would have said Southern music “grows on you” but they said instead that it’s “familiar.”

The snowbirds took day trips and said the Alabama countryside is beautiful.

“You don’t expect rolling hills down here,” Volz said. “The mountains in the northern part of the state and the beaches.”

“And Atmore,” said Rogers who got hush-hush looks. “The architecture of the buildings is interesting.”

Laughter all around.

The snowbirds attend churches in the area and said they have been welcomed as Southerners do – “with open arms.”

As their going away party came to a close, goodbyes were said, with a bit of sadness.

“When we come back, we will teach you to say, ‘serviette’ rather than ‘paper napkin,’” Rogers told the Colley Complex girls.

As the snowbirds left the senior center, someone called, “Y’all come back, ya hear!”

The snowbirds laughed and waved.

The Colley Complex girls waved back and watched until the snowbirds car was long out of sight. That’s another Southern thing.