cover image The Wild Marsh: Four Seasons at Home in Montana

The Wild Marsh: Four Seasons at Home in Montana

Rick Bass, . . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26 (375pp) ISBN 978-0-547-05516-9

Novelist and naturalist Bass (The Lives of Rocks ) gets up close and personal with local fauna, flora and folks in this account of the passing seasons in northwestern Montana’s Yaak Valley wilderness range, where he and his family—four of the estimated 150 inhabitants of the half-a-million-acre region—have dwelled for 13 years. January is the dark month; March heralds the mud season; May brings hard rains and the first aspen buds. July and August are when fire, “a forest’s breath,” both renews the landscape and threatens homes. Come October, “a heroic fatigue” sets in after spring’s heady growth and summer’s steady pace, and spirits surge on a brittle, sunny day in December. Bass complements naturalistic observations with anecdotes about his neighbors, like the accommodating old-timers who winch his truck out of a ravine. Throughout, the author anchors his celebration of nature’s elegant order with his rhapsodic relationship to the wild marsh outside his writing cabin, and the uncompromising wilderness it represents. Bass has mined his valley for several other books, but there is no shortage of nature’s grace for him to exalt. (July)