The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 15, 2013

Most worthwhile things are free

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— What do you do for recreation?  Think about it.

How and what do we do to re-create ourselves? How do we spend our leisure or spare time, or even planned time of fun?

When I was a kid, we did many things for fun. We waded in the creeks. We hunted fossils and unusual rocks. We picked persimmons and nuts in the fall. We gathered gourds (why, I don’t know — but we did). We waded in puddles when it rained or just enjoyed getting wet walking in the rain. We climbed trees. We picked flowers. We spent many hours swinging in the swing in the mulberry tree in our back yard, or the elm tree in the front yard (until that tree just died of old age). We never ran out of something to do for  recreation.

As I look back on my youth, I realize more and more that the best things in life really are free. The fun that we had cost absolutely nothing, yet what wonderful memories they made.

Every year for as far back as I can remember, Mother and I went pecan hunting on my birthday in November.  We didn’t need the pecans, but we had the fun of seeing the outdoors and had a wonderful birthday outing. I still miss those special times on my birthday.

A few years ago, when there were young Marine pilots stationed at Vance, several of those sweet young men and our dear friends, Kim and Randy, took me pecanning for my birthday. What great memories we made. We had a wonderful day and one I will never forget. Those kinds of birthday presents do not cost a dime, but they are priceless.   

In the evenings, we used to  make popcorn in a covered kettle with a little oil in the bottom. While the popcorn popped, Mother shook the kettle to keep the kernels from scorching. After we finished eating the popcorn, we counted the  “old maids” and had a  contest to see who had the most unpopped kernels. Before we popped the corn, we had to shell those little bitty ears of popcorn.  

We baked lots and lots of cookies.  Mother always said that cookie dough was the original Play-Doh. We spent hours shaping and cutting and baking those wonderful cookies. We made batch after batch of candy. We made and pulled taffy. We roasted peanuts. Cooking and baking — and eating — was our recreation. Is it any wonder I love to cook?  It is still my favorite thing to do during the autumn and winter evenings.  

We played lots of checkers and Chinese checkers, and in later years, Wahoo. We put many puzzles together. We cut out and played paper dolls until we wore them out right along with their fancy clothes. We  sewed doll clothes and dressed those babies thousands of times a day. When I was little, I sewed by hand, but when I was older and learned to use the Singer Sewing Machine, I found that I knew the basics and making doll clothes was more difficult than making people clothes. I guess that is why I love to sew, too.  

We read every book we could get our hands on. We played school, even when school was not in session. We all just loved school. We took turns being teacher. We had lots of books around us, so we never ran out of something to read — many books over and over.

The more I think about recreation and the things we enjoyed, the more I realize that the most worthwhile things are free. Rain, sunshine, air, weather, nature, these beautiful changing seasons in Oklahoma, appreciating and being appreciated by others, visiting  with friends and neighbors and family and others. Being loved by someone and having the opportunity to return that love has great value, yet is costs nothing.  

Jim and I were talking just recently about some of the great trips we have taken. We went back to MCRD in San  Diego, where Jim was in Marine boot camp at age 16. It was great to see where his roots were formed. That trip was like a family reunion. Three times we have been to Washington, D.C.   We saw many points of interest.  

We have been to Washington state and went on a whale watch to see and spend an afternoon observing Orca  whales. That was one of the greatest joys of my life. We have been to San Francisco and watched the sea lions on the wharf, barking to each other.  As we look back on our many vacations, we realize that the things that brought us the most pleasure and made indelible memories actually cost nothing. The fancy entertainments that we were part of, have long ago faded from memory. The memories that lasted cost nothing.  

I am almost sad when I hear people say there is nothing to do. Have they even looked out their windows? Have they seen the beautiful surroundings in Enid, America? Have they walked outside and looked at the sky and heard the sounds of nature? Those things are all free for enjoyment.  

As I said earlier, I love to cook just for the joy of cooking. For instance, this dessert:

Pumpkin Chiffon Dessert

13⁄4 cup  graham cracker  crumbs

1⁄4 cup sugar

1⁄2 cup melted butter

1 (eight ounce) package cream cheese, softened

2 eggs, beaten

3⁄4 cup sugar

3 cups milk

2 packages (31⁄2 ounce) instant vanilla pudding

2 cups canned pumpkin

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 (8 ounce) carton prepared whipped topping

1⁄2 cup  chopped pecans

Combine crumbs, sugar and butter. Press into 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Combine cream cheese, eggs and sugar. Beat until fluffy and  spread over crust. Bake in 350- degree oven for 20 minutes. Cool.   Combine pudding mix and milk. Beat two minutes. Add pumpkin and spice. Fold in one cup of prepared whipped topping. Spread over cream cheese layer. Spread remaining prepared whipped topping over pumpkin layer. Sprinkle with nuts. Refrigerate.  

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.