Sometimes I think I’m in Steinbach even though we are spending a couple of months in Phoenix. Of course in Steinbach I wouldn’t be golfing, swimming outdoors, going hiking in shorts or accompanying my husband on bike rides everyday. But as far as the people we spend time with here in the sunny southwest, well they aren’t so different than the ones we see the rest of the year. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating to say we know close to a hundred people from Steinbach who spend at least part of the winter in Arizona.
A few weeks ago my husband golfed with four gentlemen he hits the links with at the Steinbach Fly-In on a regular basis in summer. They all happened to be in the Phoenix area at the same time and so Dave arranged a reunion golf game and supper at our place. While we were out on the patio checking out the star studded sky one of the group started singing The Red River Valley and most of us chimed in for a quick four- part harmony rendition of a song that reminded us of home.
One night we were invited to friends who own a trailer in a Mesa resort and arrived to find four other Steinbach couples seated around the supper table. The Winnipeg Jets happened to be playing hockey and so we had the television on during the evening in order to keep an eye on our home team. The dinner conversation topics included the opening of the new Walmart in Steinbach, the closing of Extra Foods, the education career of a south-east resident who had just passed away, an editorial in the Carillon and yes I’ll admit it, a bit of well-intentioned gossip about various Steinbach residents we all knew.
Our Steinbach lawyer, who also happens to be a good friend, arrived in Phoenix with his wife and spent nearly a week with us. We had a great time touring the area and capturing the unique Arizona landscape with our camera lenses. Several evenings however they were invited out to dinner by Steinbach people they knew who own homes in Phoenix.
Another reunion happened when we hosted two of my husband’s former Steinbach Junior High colleagues and their spouses. Both couples have been wintering in Arizona regularly over the last decade. One woman told me after several years of constant socializing they had come to realize if they wanted to have a relaxing vacation they simply wouldn’t be able to get together with all their Steinbach acquaintances during their months in Arizona.
What draws so many people from Steinbach here? I believe it is a combination of things. The warm weather is certainly one of them. I know after several falls on icy streets during my daily Manitoba walks it was a pleasure to arrive in Arizona and exercise without worrying about freezing a body part or being injured because of slippery conditions. The low real estate costs are another bonus. Although slightly higher this year, you can still purchase a large modern home here at prices that would be the envy of new home buyers in Steinbach. I think people like the change of scenery too. Mountains, saguaro cacti, deserts and mesquite and palo verde trees offer an attractive alternative to the flat prairie with its spruces and birch. And perhaps another selling feature of the Phoenix area is the fact that even though you are not in Steinbach, you can still get together with many of your Steinbach friends and acquaintances. Your social life need never miss a beat.
* This is one of the Carillon columns I wrote during our two months in Arizona.
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