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See You at the Swap Meet - 11/08
It's a Snowbird ritual.
Nov 30, 2008
I hear wild horses in my sleep.
It starts with the rhythmic stomping of hooves - thousands of hooves – relentlessly pounding the ground in a surging, rolling crescendo of unbridled power.
Next comes the haunting guttural sounds - the untamed whinnying and snorting of the wild herd – filling the air with the primal call of nature’s supremacy, a call that plunges the depths of ones very soul.
Eventually it all becomes too real, this sound in the night. Just when the wild herd of snorting stallions seems to be stampeding right past our bedroom window, my eyes fly open and I suddenly sit up soaked in sweat.
This has been going on for a couple of weeks now, this nightly visit from the galloping herd. But then again, it’s not surprising. I hear it all day long every weekend in my Swap Meet booth.
Yes, it’s that time of year again, Snowbird season. All over North America and the Canadian provinces, thousands of snowbirds are flocking to Arizona to escape the ravages of winter weather. New friends are being made and old acquaintances are once again being rekindled as these winter refugees arrive in the desert by the RV load.
Golf, hiking and bingo games await as Snowbirds from all over North America once again commence their annual winter lives. But there is no activity that defines the Snowbird more than an afternoon of wandering around the local Swap Meet. It is a ritual that has been around as long as Snowbirds have been coming to Arizona.
Once again I have a booth at the big Swap Meet, one of 1,600 vendors that take up residence there every Friday, Saturday and Sunday all winter long. I proudly occupy booth D-59 this year, selling my book “The Secret Life of a Snowbird” as well as a colorful variety of pool bags and beach towels, along with some other items. And I sit there contently inside my booth, watching the people slowly wander past. Occasionally some will enter in to look, chat and shop.
Kiddy-corner to my left is the Redwood Sign man. He is busy all day long making and selling small redwood signs that snowbirds need when they come to Arizona and get settled into their park. Everyone, it seems has to have one of these signs hanging by their front door to announce to their neighbors who they are and where they’re from.
Straight across from me is a large booth selling tools and tarps. This place seems to be busy all the time, filled with men of all shapes and sizes, rummaging around through the hundreds of items that are strewn out in front of them on the many tables inside the booth.
Kiddy-corner to my right is Ray. He’s a guy selling dipping mustard and salsa. Ray spends his weekends encouraging people to dip a pretzel or a cracker into his jars of sauces and sample his products. Ray lets me walk around the corner of my booth and partake of his wares anytime I want. Good guy that Ray.
And then there’s the booth directly on my right.
Now, I’m no expert, but I must say that I do know a little bit about horses. I grew up on a farm after all. There was a time when I would spend many a day on horseback working cattle. In doing so, I learned a lot about horses, their tendencies, their personalities, their dispositions. I learned how horses behave in certain situations and what to expect from them in any and all circumstances. But nothing, and I mean nothing, prepared me for the chaos, the bedlam, the sheer equine uproar which emanates every weekend from the booth directly on my right.
A nice couple runs the booth on my right. They sell odd and ends, knickknacks, furniture, toys and games. Their biggest seller right now is a horse. Not just any horse, a rocking horse. Whenever the horses little ears are squeezed - and there is a note on their ears inviting you to do so – they start rocking on their own and making noises, horse noises. Just a little squeeze on their ears and you soon have an earful of galloping hooves and the full throated whinny from a herd of wild mustangs.
And it is cute to see – at first.
The couple on my right has a dozen or so of these toy beasts lined up on a table in front of their booth. As shoppers walk by, and hundreds do all day, ears are pinched, hooves clomp and a chorus of whinnying horses let out their strident calls – all – day – long.
It is now burned into my brain, this noise. I can’t escape it. I hear it hour after hour in my swap meet booth. I hear it in the car as I drive home after the swap meet closes. I hear it in my sleep.
And so I sit amid the wild stampede at my booth D-59. I chat with other snowbirds from all over the United States and Canada who happen to wander in and browse over my book and other items. Why, some people sometimes even buy something from me, which makes my days out there at the swap meet even more fun. And it is all good. After all, that’s what us Snowbirds are down here for anyway, right - to have fun?
So if you’re planning a trip this winter to the Phoenix area, or you are already here on your snowbird excursion, plan to come on over to the big Swap Meet in Mesa at Signal Butte Road and Baseline. Drop in on my booth at space D-59 and say hi. I would be tickled to death to see you and show you my book.
Just watch out for the wild horses next door. They might keep you up at night.