Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Sept. 24, 2001

Getting lost with my mother-in-law


As if life isn't exciting enough, I found myself good and lost last week while driving with my mother in law, Bernice.

I hate detours, especially in the dark.

Bernice lives in South Dakota, and we get along like peas and carrots. She only visits this area twice a year, and so this time around we decided to scoop up the late season bargains at the Lester Prairie citywide garage sale.

So, we started off Saturday, and I was driving as usual. Good thing she doesn't read my columns when it comes to my driving! Ha ha. Well, maybe that will change if I keep getting her lost.

We both very much enjoy driving through the countryside. I've taken her just about everywhere in her car - Marshall, Pipestone, and some other places.

This is off the subject, but she tell me stories about the olden days, or what she calls "digging up old bones."

Bernice remembers the dust bowl and tells some powerful stories about when she was growing up at that time.

Once, she told me that during the '30s, people would turn their plates upside down on the dinner table to avoid collecting the dust that blanketed everything. When you turned your bowl right side up, a thick outline of dust would be where your plate was.

She remembers candling eggs, too. Isn't that neat? Elderly people are the most wonderful storehouses of information, if we are willing to listen to them.

But, I digress. Back to getting lost.

There we were, in the car. We stuffed the trunk full of bargains, ate some fresh apple pie and hot soup at Carlson's Orchard, went back home for a spell, and then returned to Winsted to deliver something to a friend of mine there.

I am very unfamiliar with the Winsted countryside, especially in the dark, and what roads go where.

The last thing I remember was taking the detour by Vitran in Winsted and then I tried to take Wright County Road 5 going north, because I thought it went straight to Highway 12.

What I didn't realize was that Wright County 5 going north is somewhere else, and I actually took McLeod County Road 5, which twirls here and there, and eventually takes you to Swan Lake if you keep going what you think is northwest.

My kids fell asleep in the back seat, which saves me from my 5-year-old son saying "Mom, are we lost?" all the time.

So, there I was - looking for a settlement. We finally rolled into the east side of Hutchinson. I never was so happy to see that place.

It almost reminds me of when people give me incomplete directions, although this mostly happened out west when I was editor of a newspaper there.

In South Dakota, I remember someone telling me "Take a left at the place where the doctor's office used to be, and then turn right at the red barn," to pick up her daughter, who was our babysitter.

The only problem is that the barn wasn't red anymore (honest), and the doctor took his sign down years ago.

I don't have this problem in Howard Lake. There's only been once or twice that people gave me terrible directions - bad enough where I couldn't find the place. One was a gal who never drove in her life, and it was miraculous that I arrived at her home.

I used to tie myself in knots over this kind of thing, but in my old age, I've learned to relax and get there when I get there.

Oh well. Life is about the scenery on the way there, and not the destination, right?

Sticking together

I've heard the pledge of allegiance about four times since the terrorist attack Sept. 11.

This includes two city council meetings, the school board, and the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school homecoming coronation.

In every instance, it was so different than before - even the young people put their hands over their hearts and said it with pride. I always thought they didn't know the words, but I was wrong.

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