Going to Ground

A Journey through Chronic Pain, Aging and the Restorative Powers of Nature

By Luanne Armstrong

Categories: Memoir, Environment
Imprint: Caitlin Press
Paperback : 9781773860756, 184 pages, March 2022

In this warm and tender new collection of essays, award-winning writer Luanne Armstrong returns to her first love, the land, and delivers a nourishing blend of self-reflection, nature-inspired philosophy, and social critique.


At the age of five, Luanne Armstrong fell in love with the beauty of the land--the late afternoon sun on a field of emerald-green grass, the clucking of hungry chickens as she spread seed for their meals. Her growing years were spent subsistence farming with her family, living closely with the animals of the farm and immersing herself in the surrounding wilderness. Now, at seventy-two, she continues to garden--albeit a bit more slowly and on a much smaller scale--and to observe the world around her, both human and animal.

Going to Ground is a deeply intimate and meditative collection of personal essays exploring the intersections of chronic pain, the myths and stories that make us human, and the unexpected magic of finding your rage and joy reflected back to you by nature. Through these brave and vulnerable vignettes brimming with a lifetime's worth of wisdom and filled with astonishing prose, Luanne Armstrong gets deeply personal about what it means to recover from traumatic brain injuries, grow older when you've fallen in love with being needed, and slow down enough to listen to nature, even when the message isn't what you were expecting to hear.

In this mix of self-reflection, nature-inspired philosophy, and social critique, Armstrong helps us make sense of the complicated relationships between aging parents and their adult children, the changes brought about by climate change and technology, and the slow, surprising process of getting older when you belong to the generation that lived by the motto, "Never trust anyone over 30."


Going to Ground is a deeply affecting book. Imbued with a wisdom that comes from a life lived with intense curiosity, Armstrong’s writing shows us how questions about the physical and metaphysical world remain large and full of marvel. With honesty and unsentimental acuity, Going to Ground charts the losses that come with the passing of time and the beauty that remains. ‘So much to know, still. So happy to learn it, out here, on the edge of knowledge and understanding.’ This is a book filled with grief and joy but most of all wonder. This is a book to love.”

—Donna Kane, author of Orrery, a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards

“These are stories of a woman aging in place at the same rate that her childhood farm returns to the wild and society drifts away from the storytelling she tuned into long ago. Luanne Armstrong reclaims it by inviting us into her farm’s oral traditions and filling them with life. These are wonderful, companionable stories of joy, pain, aging and loss, against the counterpoint of a land ever-deepening and ever more personal. A lesser writer would have dwelt on loss. There is loss here, and pain, but overall, there is life. This is a book about discovery and being held by beautiful but unforgiving Kootenay Lake. After a life writing and farming on its shores, she passes the gift on to us, in a work of great wisdom.”

—Harold Rhenisch, award-winning author of Out of the Interior and The Tree Whisperer