Who knows how we find some of life’s most meaningful treasures, but somehow we find them and they become delights.
Last summer, Tink was away, working on a TV series. In the late night quiet of the Southern backwoods, the dogs would bark at the stealthy sound of the possum who sneaked in to steal the garage cats’ food while I read books or flipped through magazine stories on my electronic device.
I don’t know how it happened.
Never had I watched any Facebook videos. Never. I didn’t even know how to go to the site. But one night, a precious, sweet face popped up. Her Southern drawl — from the far reaches of Alabama, it turned out — lured me.
“This,” she said, holding up a black pan, “is a cast iron skillet. This is good for so many reasons. Oh, you need to get you one if you don’t have one.”
Her grayish blonde hair was pulled back in a messy ponytail. Not messy as in what is stylish and young girls strive to have. Messy as in the way my ponytail looks when I’m mucking the stalls or pulling weeds and I haven’t had time to look in the mirror.
Petite and slightly built, she had an apron tossed over her neck. The light lines scattered around her pretty face hinted that she was somewhere in the neighborhood of her late sixties.
“Now, I’m gonna show y’all how to make fried green t’matoes. If y’all have never had these, you’re REALLY missin’ out on somethin.’”
With a big butcher knife — which reminded me so much of Mama — she sliced the tomatoes, all the time talking her viewers through how to make the batter, how hot the grease should be, how long to fry them on each side.
As the crickets sang loudly outside, I found a new friend. Her name is Brenda Gantt, a retired school teacher who runs a bed and breakfast in Andalusia, Alabama. She is an accidental internet sensation. One day, urged by her family, she set up a video in her humble, colorful kitchen and began sharing her country cooking.
Normally, she is on the edge of disheveled with her glasses pushed back on her head and her apron often hanging crooked. This makes her even more adorable and appealing. She’s like us — a hard worker pulled in many directions and so scattered she often forgets to breathe.
Brenda — who I’ve never met but, nonetheless, consider her a friend — often tells about her trip to “The Pig” (Piggly Wiggly) and what was on sale.
“Now, y’all, you can get any flavor of soda you want for this ice cream. But this orange was on sale at The Pig today so this is what I got.” She smiles constantly and throws winks at the camera. Such a charming Southern woman.
Her catchphrase is “It’s gonna be good, y’all!”
I became a fan, discovering that many friends were already watching her. Their comments always began with, “I LOVE HER!”
Her following grew. Soon this Jesus-loving, Scripture-quoting woman who invites people to her little country church had millions of followers. Over 10 million have watched her biscuit instructions. This landed her on Mike Huckabee’s national talk show where she confessed she’d never been on a plane until the show flew her to Nashville.
Using a Chef Boyardee pizza sauce can that she has cherished for 50 years, she cut out biscuits while chatting happily, “I’m so happy to be here! Thank y’all for havin’ me!”
This, of course, has led her, with tremendous excitement, to a cookbook titled, “It’s Gonna Be Good, Y’all.” She giggles when she talks about it, using her usual exclamation marks, “Y’all, this is just a dream come true!”
What a joy to see: a simple country woman whom the Lord has blessed.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “What Southern Women Know About Faith.” Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column publishes weekly.