November 3, 2013

God and pancakes

By Christopher Smith

— Pancakes are a lot like autumn leaves.

OK. That comparison might seem strange to some, but bare with Lou Herrera’s analogy for a minute.

“I cooked pancakes all the time,” Herrera, 67, said of his time working at an IHOP in south Florida before moving to Dalton in 2006. “It’s not fun. There came a point I got sick of the pancakes.”

So Herrera stopped eating them altogether. Until Saturday. After some coaxing from his family, he was brought out to the 54th annual Pancake Day at Dalton Green, joining hundreds under a big tent put up at the city park. The event was hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Dalton as a fundraiser for the organization.

For Herrera, the event had him waxing philosophical on patience.

“Look at the leaves, you know?” he said. “I read that they’re this beautiful color because of the weather we had in the summer. The summer has been extra wet. Drenched. It’s not been very fun. Not a lot of cookouts and fireworks and walks, you know? Everyone complained. I complained. And if it hasd’t been that rainy, then we wouldn’t be having such a nice fall.”

So how’s that tie into Herrera’s deep-seated adversity toward pancakes?

“I got so sick of the things from working in a hot kitchen,” he said. “So sick of them. So I stopped eating them. That was 20 years ago when I quit. So I come out today and, you know, I wasn’t thinking I’d like the pancakes. But, honest to God, I love them. I don’t think — if I’d gone 20 years without eating a single pancake — today would have been this nice.”

The point? You “never know when something that we complain about will turn into a blessing,” Herrera said. “That’s God, man. He’s a funny one.”

Catherine Dorris agrees that sometimes “things we don’t like” are hard to see as a blessing. The mother of three from Cohutta said watching Kiwanis members working over a hot grill to cook pancakes inspired her.

“They’ve been at it since 6 a.m.,” she said. “It’s getting close to noon now and they’ve been all smiles, but they got to be thinking, ‘I’m tired. I’m done with pancakes.’ They work hard. We’re very thankful for them — not just this thing, but all they (Kiwanis) do for the community.”

The day, for Dorris, tied into how patience and God work hand-in-hand.

“We’re sophisticated 21st-century people,” she said. “We’re all about microwaves and cars and Facebook and fast, fast, fast. This is a nice reminder to be patient. A lot of folks who came out waited in line for their pancakes. A lot of folks worked hard to provide to the masses. No one complained.”

Herrera says that’s the point.

“What’s complaining, huh?” he said. “Complaining is not knowing that some blessing is about to come out of it. Just look at the leaves and the smiles on everyone eating their pancakes.”