Grey skies can be cheered up

Published 12:10 am Saturday, January 5, 2013

The sunshine that flooded the bedroom as I opened a blind in the bedroom on the first morning of the New Year 2013 disappeared. From the window in my office, I noticed the brown grass on the front lawn and the bare branches of the two dogwood trees close to the street. It looked like winter, despite the mild temperature outside. I wondered how I could avoid slipping into a gloomy mood. Suddenly I remembered a remedy—a sure cure. I got up from my chair, walked over to a bookcase, and retrieved a book with a tattered book jacket.

“Just what I needed, a dose of Mis’ Lou,” I told myself, and I lovingly opened the pages of my copy of “My Country Roads,” by Lou Brown. Affectionately known as “Mis’ Lou” by friends and readers of her column in the Andalusia Star-News for more than 30 years, this dear lady had a unique way of expressing herself. In 1979, her daughter, Janie Buck, compiled selected columns into the book that I treasure so much. I vividly remember her well-attended book signing and watching with delight as the 80-year-old affixed her name, added a Bible verse (Job 36:24), and then a brief personal note to me in her familiar handwriting

My association with Mis’ Lou began with my employment with the Star-News in the early 1970s. Her “Country Road” columns, written by hand on theme paper, landed in my basket for typesetting. I probably grumbled when I picked up the first one because of the handwriting and unfamiliar words she used, such as “Meribah” (a Biblical term I was unfamiliar with then), “sistern and brethren,” “mully grubs,” and references to her husband, Mr. Pat, as “m’lord” and “precious darling.”

The more I typed and read, I recognized the depth of her words. Her columns radiated with her love for God, her “precious darlin’,” her family and friends, and appreciation of the wonders God put around us. She made delightful word pictures: “March, the tomboy of the year, can woo us with his soft winds which he gathers in the south to shake the trees awake.” And “The thrasher with her beautifully groomed spring dress has chosen a portion of the back yard.”

I loved the way she described Christmas at the Brown home, declaring that the tall Christmas tree “bowed its head and hung its arms to the floor” because of the many gifts. I chuckled reading that talcum powder was sifted around it for snow.

In one column, she revealed her intention to prepare a chicken dinner for the Biblical personalities Peter, Paul and Lydia when she got to heaven. Somehow, I found comfort from my grief over her passing in the summer of 1982 by reading those words again.

On New Year’s Day, pausing to read about Mis’ Lou’s walks in the woods, her admitted obsession with plants and flowers, and her love for her Lord and His creation dispelled any gloom that threatened my day.