The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 28, 2012

Handling life's detours

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— How do you handle the detours on life’s journey? Think about it.

I remember as if it were yesterday, a trip we took through Arkansas. I was supposed to be telling Jim the roads to take. I did. The only thing is, I failed to notice that one road we took was a tiny dotted line, which meant “unimproved.” Needless to say, we ended up going through people’s yards — in fact between their house and barn in one instance. We had to ford a creek (but as I defended, it was a fairly small creek). Jim said it nevertheless was a creek. We ended up nearly lost. We were on the map still, but we were not in familiar territory. Luckily, we found some lovely people who told us how to get out of our predicament and which turn to make to get back to a main road. Now, Jim is the navigator. On that little detour, we saw lots of beautiful country and met some very nice, polite, cordial people. In fact, one of them knew some people we know, so they treated us like homefolks.

We don’t often get lost on our trips. Jim is very good about knowing where he is going and the route he will take to get to his destination. If he has ever been there before, he never forgets the route of where he is going. In cities, I am amazed — in fact shocked — at the way he gets around.

I always know north from south and east from west. I learned that as a kid, and it is something one never forgets. It could be that I have an iron skull that is attracted to magnetic north. Anyway, I just somehow know. It does make getting places easier with fewer directions asked.

These kinds of detours are easy. It is the detours we are forced to take in our lives that are more difficult to adjust to. When we have made plans to do something and it rains or storms, and we have to change our course, it can be real disappointing.

I am sure that Daddy and Mother and my grandparents had to take many detours from their planned route because of the Depression that hit and the Dust Bowl that blew in. I have wondered many times if they were happy with the way things turned out, with all the problems that arose in their lifetime. I never heard them complain about their lot in life. They just kept on keeping on.

I am glad I am from that era of hardy people, who continued to work and plan even though things seemed to be against them at every turn. There was no money to be had. People learned to barter and trade and make do, or do without. The generation my parents raised are frugal people who are hard-working and do not expect others to take care of their needs.

And I am sure when Grandma drove that team of horses hitched to her buggy on the trip to Indian Territory, that big rocks and fallen trees caused major detours. Even the planned route was not clearly marked like it is now. They had to go around streams and large hills and other natural land marks. When it rained, the creeks swelled and the roads became deep ruts. Yet they trudged on, uncomplaining, in spite of broken wagon wheels or other disasters that had to be fixed or mended or adjusted along the way.

On that long, arduous trip, they ate sour-dough biscuits and bacon, and whatever game they could kill. They were so tired they were ready for rest and food of any kind. They did not dwell on the detours of life because they kept their eyes on the future and the things that would eventually make a better life for all of them. Isn’t there a sermon in there somewhere for all of us?

Now, with the least little things, we sometimes complain and gripe because our plans have been changed. We can easily go to plan “B” and have a great time, but we would rather make ourselves miserable by whimpering about our circumstances. Too bad.

Some of the best times we have ever had were when we had to make a detour and change our plans. We just call it a scenic route or whatever, and don’t let it rain on our parade. It seems to me the really happy person is the one who can enjoy the scenery when he or she has to make a detour — whether on the road or in life.

As we go into the most wonderful season of the year, we will have detours. We will have changes of plans of company, weather, gifts that are sold out, sickness and other things. We just have to go with the flow and not let those detours ruin our season of joy. We have to make happy memories, knowing that sometimes those detours turn out to be the best thing that could have happened.

Try to remember what Henry Emerson Fosdick wrote about “The Test of Character”:

“There is no more searching test of the human spirit than the way it behaves when fortune is adverse and it has to pass through a prolonged period of disappointing failures. Then comes the real proof of a man. Achievement, if a man has the ability, is a joy, but to take hard knocks and come up smiling, to have your mainsail blown away and then rig a sheet on the bowsprit and sail on ... this is perhaps the deepest test of character.” Way to go, Mr. Fosdick. A lesson on handling detours!

For a wonderfully easy, tasty dessert during this busy season, serve this creation:

Chocolate Éclair Dessert

1 box (14.4 ounces) graham crackers

31⁄2 cups milk

2 small packages instant vanilla pudding

1 (8 ounce) container whipped topping

1 (16 ounce) container milk chocolate ready to spread frosting

Line bottom of 9 x 13 baking dish with graham crackers. In a bowl, mix and beat the milk with vanilla pudding. Fold in the whipped topping. Pour some pudding mixture over layer of graham crackers. Continue layering, ending with graham crackers. Place container of frosting in microwave for about 15 seconds, until warm. Stir. Spread over last layer of graham crackers. Chill at least 12 hours or overnight. Keep refrigerated.

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