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Islanders head out for summer time lives

By Staff | May 15, 2009

It’s that time of the year again when the bustling streets and beaches of Sanibel and Captiva become – well quiet.

Just about the end of April every year, a sort of local phenomenon occurs on the islands. There is a sort of mass exodus from the islands. Some are visitors, but a good share of the exodus consists of part-time island residents, otherwise known as snowbirds.

Just like their feathered counter parts, every year as the sun grows warm and balmy, snow birds head for other parts of the country and sometimes world.

With them they take their charms, considerable contributions via volunteering at local agencies and warmth that their fellow islanders must live without for the next six months or so.

Aside from the void left from their absence, a curiosity develops as to what many of fellow part-time residents are doing now that they are off of island soil.

The Sanibel-Captiva Islander comprised a list of what several prominent part-time residents said they will be doing over the next several months. Here is what they had to say, in their own words.

Tom and Barbara Cooley

Submitted by Barbara Cooley

Tom cooley is known as the affable drummer of popular band Island Jazz that plays free concerts on Sundays at BIG ARTS during season.

Tom and I will leave on June 16 for New York City, where we’ll stay in a friend’s apartment in Manhattan for a few days. Then we’ll take the Queen Mary 2 from Brooklyn to Southhampton, England, where friends will pick us up and take us to Oxfordshire. After a brief visit there, we will take the Eurostar from London to Paris, arriving near the end of June.

We live in Paris, in a rented apartment, for three months every summer because we need a dose of city life, and we love to walk in the late afternoons and evenings. We take work and laptops with us, and we are able to get more done in Paris than we can on Sanibel. Of course, we love French food and we dine out almost every evening. I take lots of photos in Paris, and I keep an online Paris journal with my musings and images of the beautiful city on my website, barbarajoycooley.com.

This will be the 12th summer we’ve spent in Paris. Normally, we fly there, but we are so very tired of the airlines. And, everything is on sale this year, including transatlantic cruises on the Queen Mary 2. We’ve never taken a cruise before, so this will be something new for us. Six days at sea instead of an eight-hour, crowded flight sounds pretty good to us now.

In August, we will take one little trip to Berlin, where we’ll meet up with our German friends who will show us around that great city.

Then sometime in September, we will participate in the legendary Sanibel East dinner, somewhere in Paris. By the end of September, we are ready to come back to the swamp where we live on Sanibel. It usually takes the whole month of October for me to get used to speaking English in restaurants again.

Paris, je t’aime.

Sid Simon

Submitted by Sid Simon

Sidney B. Simon, is a theater critic for the Sanibel-Captiva Islander and M.C. of First Friday Stories for Grownups held at the library during season.

His lovable and enthusiastic ways makes him a well-like island character.

I’m heading back to the Five College Area of Western Massachusetts. I taught at U. Mass in Amherst, the last 20 years of a long Teaching Career.

Up there I don’t review plays, but I say maybe 40 in a Summer. It’s an area ripe with theater. First off, I go back at this time to catch all the Spring offerings at the five colleges: Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Amherst, U. Mass and Hampshire.

I catch up with grandkids in Ithaca, NY and Vergennes. Vt., and we have a family reunion set for August. In between, old friends, new plays all over the Berkshires and Vermont. The joys of a snowbird flying North.

Michael and Maureen Valiquette

The Valiquettes’ widely recognized for starting and running the water protection agency PURRE will be spending a portion of the summer in Italy. Their son Justin and daughter-in-law Abbey who live in Salerno, Italy recently had a baby Cayden Luca Valiquette.

The Valiquettes will be spending their time in southwest Italy and northern Italy in Bellagio – the foothills of the Alps.

Marsha Wagner

The former Broadway star and Sanibel-Captiva Islander theater critic left her Sanibel home on Thursday for the Berkshires area in Massachusetts. She will spend her time teaching pilates in Lennox and and going to the theaters in Tanglewood. She said she will also be attending the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Wagner will get a chance to meet up with fellow islander and theater critic Sid Simon during her travels.

For Wagner, the trip up north won’t be much of a change from life on sanibel.

“It’s not unlike here,” Wagner said. “It’s very artsy. It’s like Sanibel spread out.”

Art Stevens

Art Stevens is one of the quintessential “nice guys” on Sanibel. He shares his time between the island and New Jersey where he runs a successful PR firm.

He writes a humor column weekly for the Sanibel-Captiva Islander.

This summer Art and Eva Stevens will be going on a river cruise on the Danube River in Europe from June 12-25. They will spend three days in Budapest upon their arrival and then spend a week on a river boat that can accommodate up to 200 people. Among the stops on the cruise will be Bratislava, Vienna, Passau, Linz, Nuremberg and Regensburg. They will then spend four days in Prague before heading home.

Care to share your travel plans? email Ella Nayor, Islander Editor at enayor@breezenewspapers.com.