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Going to Seed: Dispatches from
the Garden

by Charles Goodrich
Review by Molly Templeton

Little Wishes

"Geology makes me feel insignificant,"  Charles Goodrich tells an ant
that's climbing his leg. There's a quiet, light joke in this admission, which
comes in the "Fall"section of Goodrich's Going to Seed: Dispatches from
the Garden
(Silverfish Review Press, $14.95), a collection of short pieces
arranged by season but spanning more than a single year. Goodrich might
feel insignificant next to the Columbia Gorge, but what he does, repeatedly
and gracefully, is locate the significance in the small and overlooked: a crow's gangly call; a shovelful of new potatoes; the first frost; the gift of bean seeds; the changes that pass through a garden as seasons change and things grow, bloom, fruit and rot.

"Dispatches" is a smart word for Goodrich's lovely, observant, half-page pieces, but you might also think of them as snapshots, each freezing a moment, a vision or a memory. Each is neatly pruned of excess words, unnecessary sentimentality or distracting overgrowth; what remains on the page is as elegant and seemingly effortless as a branch just beginning to bud. You needn't be a gardener to appreciate the feelings and thoughts gardening inspires in Goodrich, not any more than you needed to go live in the woods in order for Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek to resonate with you. Goodrich transforms the act of growing things into a lens through which meanings change; dead creatures and baby teeth are soil food;
a convent whispers its garden's history; St. Patrick's Day is for planting potatoes, not dyeing beer green.

These dispatches are engrossingly calm and disconcertingly personal. Goodrich's wife and son appear, and his past weaves in and out of his life in the garden, where he tries to hear the corn growing and, in one heartbreakingly gentle piece, buries a beloved pet.  The last line of that piece, "Calico," might be the most exact, impressive display of how
Goodrich can turn an ordinary moment into a precise momument to the weight of small things. I can't possibly quote just part of it. I'll leave it for you to find the whole treasure.

Charles Goodrich celebrated the release of Going to Seed at 5:30 pm Thursday, April 22, at DIVA.
-Molly Templeton

Publisher: Silverfish Review Press
PubDate: 4/1/2010
ISBN: 9781878851581
Binding: Paperback
Price: $14.95
Pages: 75


Review originally appeared in The Eugene Weekly

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