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GOING TO GROUND by Amy Blackmarr

GOING TO GROUND

Simple Life on a Georgia Pond

By Amy Blackmarr

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-670-87567-8
Publisher: Viking

 This elliptical series of descriptive essays offers an experiment of sorts: a graceful descent into the Thoreauvian life of mind and nature. In Walden, the prototypical ``pond tale,'' Thoreau says he went to the woods so as not to discover, when he came to die, that he had not lived. Blackmarr decided several years ago to quit her Kansas business and move back home to southern Georgia and a fishing-cabin retreat, with two dogs for constant companions; and in a deliberate echo of Thoreau, she says she did not want to wake up regretting, 30 years later, that she had not done the things she'd always wanted to do--in particular, to write and to be near her grandmother, MaRe. Blackmarr's metaphor of discovery and of connectedness to her grandfather's land--her ``ground''--is evoked throughout, but most literally in scenes that frame her story: first, her watching her ``hard-bodied little gray dog'' Max digging a cave in the dirt outside her cabin, and later, her dog Queenie's death and burial. Though not a traditional believer, she nevertheless does occasionally go looking ``for God sign, like a good tracker.'' The author, who herself describes this work as ``less narrative than scene, less word than image--less explanation than experience,'' is only selectively present in this memoir: as writer, hunter, arrowhead collector. That Blackmarr currently lives in a treehouse indicates she has not yet finished her quest. But when she describes her cabin's view of light glittering on the water, ``catching on the wet backs of turtles and in the feathery tops of the pale, tall grasses around the banks,'' and says ``I am my grandmother's voice,'' readers are likely to hear this as a welcome invocation, and to fall effortlessly under the entrancing spell of her words. (Author tour)