The Key West Mystique

Key West Island News


Key West Island News connects Key West residents and friends of the island, fosters our One Human Family culture and advances understanding of shared goals for our island community

About those snowbirds. What WAS I thinking?

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.


Y’all remember last week when I posited that two kinds of people live in Key West? Those who love it; and those who don’t? Got a whole lotta attagirls on the post. Felt darn smug about the love. Until, that is, a friend from up the street dropped in for coffee on the porch a few mornings post-publication.

“Loved the column,” she said, settling in at the table, me feeling all warm and pride-y. “But, darn girl, Nancy and I have a serious bone to pick with you.”


“You need to stop thinking of snowbirds only as people who vacation here,” she said. “There’s another kind. Like us. When we are here, we are completely here. We volunteer. We work. This is our home. We have two homes. Two lives.”

Point taken. Sandy and Nancy spend half the year in Key West; half in Canada give or take a few days. Two homes. Two lives. Not once in the years I’ve known them have I thought of them as snowbirds of the vacationing variety. Sandy’s spot on: There’s a snowbird subset of second-home owners with two lives.

Come to think of it, I know a lot of subset snowbirds. Several in my neighborhood; many in the various organizations with which I work. They make Key West home for many months of the year, generally don’t have their house in the vacation rental market, support local organizations with time, talent and cash, foster kittens, serve on not-for-profit boards and are as likely to have a (305) area code for their cell as many locals.

We are fortunate they’ve chosen to make Key West home.

I told Sandy over coffee that morning I’d write a mea culpa post, not because she complained, but because she’s right. There IS a subset of the stereotypical snowbird escaping the cold by vacationing on the island.

Sometimes when I write, I forget that what is a delightful turn of phrase for me becomes a sore spot for another. I am always grateful to those who read behind me and help me clean up my missteps. (Y’all know who you are.) Now, let’s flap wings and get to that happy hour.





  1. mickey babcock

    thank you, linda. lovely mea culpa. i am a “subset snowbird”, now living 2 lives in jackson, WY and santa barbara, CA. i do invest numerous resources in both communities, as i feel obligated to give back to the communities that give so much to me. i believe there are many in this subset… i wonder if our boomer generation might be setting a new standard?
    all the best to you! mickey

    • LGC KWIN

      Yep, Mickey, I suspect you’re right. We boomers are happiest when we are busy doing stuff, so leading two fulfilling lives makes total sense!

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