A Woman Of Practical Good Sense And Strong Cheerfulness

She was a woman of practical good sense and strong cheerfulness, She knew that the world was risky and that she must risk her surviving child to it . . . ~ Wendell Berry, That Distant Land

An arresting description of Nancy Feltner, a woman who had endured unthinkable sorrows. I lingered over it, re-reading a dozen or more times. The face that floated before me was that of my beloved Grandma Eliza. A knowledge that the world is risky is often antithetical to practical good sense and strong cheerfulness. For my part, sensibility and cheerfulness are not exactly my first impulses in the face of risks that threaten my family and loved ones. Yet, Nancy’s and Eliza’s examples give me hope.

Mr. Berry continually rouses remembrances of people and places dear to me. He situates his stories in Kentucky, but my mind situates them in the creeks and fields and woods of Tidewater Virginia (on my momma’s side) and the mountains and valleys and farms of Southwest Virginia (on my daddy’s side). Grandparents and parents and uncles and aunts and cousins and neighbors and friends come thronging; my heart is full. Truly,

“The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”

~ Psalm 16:6

Mutter mit Kindern by Albert Ritzberger, 1915

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