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Bertha Damon

  • Grandma ... had a great deal to do with the education of her granddaughters. In general she not so much trained as just shed herself upon us.

  • ... since in modern times cruelty is bad form, it must cover itself; this it often does under the admired cloak of discipline.

  • ... little seedlings never flourish in the soil they have been given, be it ever so excellent, if they are continually pulled up to see if the roots are grateful yet.

  • To hide your own crying was the Griswold way of feeling grief. To ignore another's crying, the Griswold way of curing it.

  • Humor was for her a kind of social salt; and salt not only adds savor, it preserves.

  • Children feel what their elders forget, our touching kinship with animals. To me a chipmunk was a far more real personality than Great-Uncle Aaron, and the mousehole gnawed in the lower left corner of the door to down cellar a more delightful habitation for the mind to contemplate than the parsonage.

  • She had one of those frequent, but not spontaneous smiles that did for her face what artificial flowers do for some rooms. Smiles, somehow, were more used in those days; they were instruments, weapons, what not.

  • ... the self-assured porcupine, endearingly grotesque, waddles up the road in broad daylight. He looks as if he had slept in his rumpled spiky clothes, and he probably has.

  • I have come to the conclusion that almost no one on earth is lazy. The truth is that the man you call lazy just doesn't want to do your kind of work; he wants to do his kind.

  • It is tragic that some gifts have to be made so costly, so damaging to the giver that there remains no small part of the giver to go with the gift ...

  • Grandma said that always to be grasping for more and more things and missing more and more values was no way for immortal souls to behave. Grandma called it carnal.

  • Grandma spent much time 'working in the garden.' She called it that, but it wasn't like work. It was a kind of formative being present, intensely aware—that combination of willing and of gloating, simultaneously, that is creation ...

  • In Grandma conviction and resolve were powerful, and advanced hand in hand. There is a saying, 'To think is to act'; which describes her well. Such natures are often heroic; they move mountains. But it must be hinted that while such natures are admirable they are subject to one grave defect: too often, action which should be the result of thought, becomes the substitute for it. Presently, 'to act is to think' seems an excellent precept, and by and by merely to act seems all that is necessary. Then the wrong mountains may get moved.

  • Getting what you go after is success; but liking it while you are getting it is happiness.

  • Hospital rooms seem to have vastly more ceiling than any rooms people live in.

  • May is fulfillment compounded with immediate expectation and ultimate hope. May is like the first rising of the curtain before the play, the first measures of the orchestral overture. No moment afterward comes up to that.

  • Autumn is the best season in which to sniff, and to sniff for pleasure, for this is the season of universal pungency.

  • ... beauty that dies the soonest has the longest life. Because it cannot keep itself for a day, we keep it forever. Because it can have existence only in memory, we give it immortality there.

  • A quantity of snow in itself is not so wonderful; it is the combinations which snow makes with forms in the winter scene.

  • Spring never comes abruptly; it makes promises in a longer twilight or a day of warmer sunshine, and then takes them back in a dark week of storm. It gives presages—a thaw, a swelling of maple buds, a greening of grass, a flash of bird wing; then snow falls and winter returns. Again and again spring is here and not here. But fall comes in one day, and stays.

  • The first impulse of many women as the current bears them toward middle age is to turn back toward youth or at least to try to remain stationary, treading water. But wise women perceive how pleasant the new scene is and let the current carry them serenely. Even when it seems to be bearing them on from middle age to age itself, they do not struggle and they enjoy all their voyage, for they feel that evening air has a good quality of its own.

  • I believed, like many others, that country life is simple. Now I know that the only thing simple about it is the person who thinks it is going to be.

  • The process of weeding can be as beneficial to the gardener as to the garden. It gives scope to the aggressive instinct—what a satisfaction to pull up an enemy by the roots and throw him into a heap! And yet, paradoxically, weeding is the most peaceful of any outdoor task.

  • [Radishes] are the one amateur crop to be relied on. Many are sowed, but few are eaten, except those first prompt miraculous test cases which the gardener wipes on the seat of his overalls and eats on the spot, with no condiment but grit.

Bertha Damon, U.S. humorist, writer, lecturer, editor

Bertha Clark Pope Damon wrote in the mid-20th century, but I’ve been unable to find her birth and death dates.