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THE GARDEN by Charles Frode


Perennial Reflections on Beginnings and Ends

by Charles Frode

Pub Date: March 12th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-79483-116-2

A collection of meditative essays centered on the practical and spiritual aspects of gardening.

Frode, the author of the short story collection Dreaming of Fish & Other Apocalyptic Stories of Foreboding and Grace (2018), among other works, assembles 56 short reflections inspired by his life and his love of gardening. Each chapter features small, full-color illustrations that include garden images. The mood for each essay is set by an opening quotation from a thinker and writer, such as Henry David Thoreau, Mohandas Gandhi, Wendell Berry, W.S. Merwin, or Thich Nhat Hanh. The entries cover a wide range of topics, from the practical to the sublime, making the volume of interest to both seasoned and novice gardeners. Frode explores the myriad possibilities of the garden’s revolving seasons, which he describes as “metaphors for life and death.” His reflections are sometimes highly personal, giving the volume a memoirlike quality. The chapter “Hands” features a photo montage of the author’s own hands, front and back, and reflections of what they’ve handled over a lifetime, including model cars, a concrete Japanese lantern, and, of course, garden vegetables. In another essay, he pays tribute to friendships and lessons that he learned during his younger days at a Trappist monastery.However, the volume is most successful when the reflections consider universal themes, such as the wonders of the natural world; the meanings of longing, memory, and healing; and the notion that “Gardening is an exercise in beginnings and ends.” The chapters vary in form, from original poetry in “Garden Poems” to spiritual instructions in “How To Grow a Garden.” Although the author suggests that gardening is a form of prayer, the emphasis throughout his book is on contemplative practice rather than religious faith. The work’s meditative qualities, attractive design, and evocative, graceful prose make it a treat for well-read gardeners.

A lovely set of writings that draw inspiration from the natural world.