Saturday, March 25, 2006


by Skald

Woke up this morning, threw on jeans, and headed to breakfast with my friend Sky. Clouds covered the city, and as we walked, a light rain fell. We loped along slowly... heading to a small diner. As we did, irritation popped forth.. like a ripe seed sending out shoots. Throughout breakfast, I snarled, pouted, and ate silently.

Once finished, I headed back to the apartment. I relaxed a few minutes, then grabbed the laptop... time for the daily pilgrimage to a coffee shop. This time, I noticed my mood lifting as I walked. A smile cracked my face. Energy surged. A bit curious, I wondered why the sudden change in mood. Then I looked up and noticed the sun. Clouds were breaking up, the rain was gone.

We've had a miserable month in San Francisco... drab, chilly, and rainy. For the last month, Ive been grumpy and bored. A coincidence?

Hardly. Perhaps I inherited sunlight sensitivity from my Nordic ancestors? I dont know. What I do know is that lack of sunlight quickly sends me into depression. Id almost forgotten this phenomenon, after living in tropical Thailand for two years. In Thailand, its always hot and sunny... even the rainy days are bright (compared to North America).

All this got me to thinking about the "Snow Bird" lifestyle. Snow Birds are retirees who migrate according to the season. In the summer, when the South is unbearable... they load into their RVS and vans and head north. They may spend the summer in Michigan, or New York, or the northwest. But when the cold air and dark days come... they head south... to ride out the winter in Florida, Georgia, Southern California, or even Mexico.

This strikes me as very sensible. Birds migrate. Many herd animals migrate. In the ancient past, human tribes migrated too. They followed the animals, or the sun.

While we CAN live in cold/harsh climates, clearly humans are designed for mild or tropical weather.

And so Im starting to think of creating a migratory life for myself... to move according to the seasons. Mainly, this would involve escaping North America (and other cold climates) for at least half the year. I plan to open my own school(s) one day... and have decided to do so with migration in mind. In other words, Id like to have a school in a warm climate and one in a cooler one (say, San Francisco). Id share time between them, according to the seasons.

There are simpler ways to do this. Surf/Ski bums often follow a migratory approach. In the winter they head to the mountains.. where they work in resorts as instructors or service staff. When the snow melts, they head for the beach and the waves... or elsewhere for seasonal work... or they go to a cheap warm place (like Thailand) and ride out the summer. Its sort of a Snow Bird life in reverse.

There are many possibilities. While I deplore traditional teaching environments, they do have one advantage... schedule! Summers off. Thats a damn good perk. While the ratio isnt great (only 2 months off)... the schedule beats the hell out of other traditional jobs. Many teachers (especially in the UK, it seems) spend their summers traveling. They spend two plus months wandering foreign countries... taking vacations... and generally having a great time. NOT a bad lifestyle, and it probably makes them more interesting teachers too.

So here's a thought: consider your ancient roots. Consider a migratory lifestyle. Follow the birds. Follow the sun.


Anonymous said...

I think your theory that people are only to live in sunny climes is rubbish. Certainly you can't generalize about that. Sure, millions of people head to Spain (in Europe) and to Florida (in the US) to spend their retirement, but me and many others hate heat and would rather prefer less crowded, more beautiful, colder areas such as Scandinavia, Iceland, the Pacific Northwest and Canada. When it's too cold I can always bundle up, but too much heat does my head in.

One day I hope to settle in some remote area in Norway with my girlfriend. Top summer temperature only about 25 degrees C. Paradise!

Jonathon said...


Thought you would like this website. Click on the pictures to check out some of these tiny homes. Many were built for $3000 dollars or less.

Cym said...

Another affordable housing option is cob.

Cob Pictures


Ryan Garou said...

When I lived up in Alaska, during the winters it was common for people to get what they called "Seasonal Affective Disorder" from lack of sun - for a couple months during the winter there's only four hours of sunlight in the middle of the day (it was quite common to go days without seeing light at all, if you worked an indoor job or on third shift). Anyway, the symptoms were depression, restless sleep, etc. They had a special "light room" in the hospital that I worked at for people to sit in and just chill for an hour or two under these special UV lights that were supposed to replicate sunlight. So I do believe there is some credence to your theory, at least for some people.

Jonathon said...

Those cob homes look more like art than affordable housing. Some of those pictures look like what you would find in a southern California villa home and probably just as expensive. I just don't think that would be realistic for your average nomad, hobopoet, or homeless person. Thanks for sharing though.

Cym said...

re: cob

If you read the cob faq, you'd learn that it's possible to build a cob home for as little as $500. It's true that some of the cob home's pictured in the example cost more than $500, but I gurantee you they cost a lot less than you'd think. The beauty of cob is that it's possible to build a home working around any budget, because cob is one of the world's least expensive building materials around, while still being one of the most durable, long lasting, and (due to the thick walls) is naturally cool when hot and warm when cool, saving on energy expenses.

I would't had suggested it if I didn't believe it was an inexpensive option. Unless you think $500 for a house is expensive? I agree that this may not be the best option for year round nomads, but it certainly is one of the least expensive home building options in the long run (cob home's often last for hundreds of years), and may appeal to part-time nomads, or any one wanting to build a durable and yet aesthetically pleasing home on the cheap.