The Call of the Clarendon Hills Snowbird – "Talk of the Town"

  • Mike McCurry
  • 12/23/14
From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column from The Clarendon Courier – December 11, 2014
 
Snow was falling steadily upon the frozen sidewalks outside the Clarendon Hills Park District building, but no one inside noticed.
 
Inside, the game was tied, 16 to 16, and the gymnasium shook with the applause and roars of an excited crowd that had watched all the way to the end of this thrilling basketball game. With only four seconds left on the clock, Jackson stepped to the free throw line.
 
The crowd fell to silence as he dribbled the ball, eyes intently focused on the basket. The sound of ball against floor echoed thunderously throughout the gym, heavy with tension and drama and enormous importance.
 
Resounding like cannon fire, the bouncing sound rang out once … twice … three times … and then the ball was in the air, sailing in slow motion toward the center of the hoop, the wide-eyed crowd watching with bated breath.
 
The golf ball fell into the cup with a satisfying rattle as Jackson’s grampa Scott pumped his fist in triumph. There’s not much that can beat a beautiful January day in Naples … but breaking 90 on a tough course on a beautiful January day in Naples is definitely one of them. Scott breathed in the warm, fresh air as he reached into the cup and picked up his ball, relishing the quiet of nature. Walking back to his cart with a smile, he was completely unaware that, over a thousand miles away, his grandson was being hoisted to the shoulders of his cheering fans, his free throw having won the big game.
 
Such is the difficult dilemma of the snowbird. For all its charm and beauty in July and October, Clarendon Hills can be … well, “a little uncomfortable” in January. By February the beauty and wonder of Christmasy December have faded into bleak skies and muddy, gray snow, and come March the allure of palm trees, green grass and ocean breeze is simply too strong to resist!
 
A good number of Clarendon Hills residents make the yearly winter migration, and for more reasons than just sunshine. For some, Florida has been a regular family vacation spot for years, and retired grandparents are now faced with the opportunity to make it a full-time home. Many families in town have actually purchased homes near each other in Florida, planning to move south together as a group! And who could blame them? Naples, Marco Island, Sarasota, Fort Lauderdale — there are more towns with postcard beauty in Florida than there are stamps to mail them. Anybody who’s ever put gas in a snowblower or thrown salt on a sidewalk knows the longing to leave it all behind and head south.
 
And yet … not all that happens in a Chicago winter is bleak. For Jackson, it isn’t really January without snow pants and hot cocoa. For him, winter is a time of fun and laughter outside on the sledding hill or inside on the basketball court, learning basic skills from Kelly, the (incredibly patient) director of the park district. Winter is the time of movie nights snuggled under blankets and pickup hockey at the ice rink. And for Jackson and all his adoring family fans, it could be the backdrop of the game-winning shot that he’ll forever remember with warmth and pride.
 
There are a lot of wonderful family memories to be made around here between Christmas and Easter. And for our town’s snowbirds, that makes for a difficult decision. Hopefully, they will get visitors come springtime.
 
Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around Clarendon Hills.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting Clarendon Hills residents and even a little about Clarendon Hills history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.
 
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