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Winter: Notes from  Montana
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Winter: Notes from Montana

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,754 ratings  ·  161 reviews
They were seeking a place to winter in the West, a secluded retreat where he could write and she could paint. Bass and his friend Elizabeth discovered the Yaak valley in northwest Montana. It was remote -- with no electricity or phone service, only erratic radio reception, and reachable by a gravel-and-dirt road that required four-wheel drive. There was one saloon, a gener ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published January 20th 1992 by Mariner Books (first published 1991)
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  1,754 ratings  ·  161 reviews

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Feb 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In praise of, as Bass puts it, the lower, slower state: “where you’re sure to live twice as long, and see twice as many things, and be two times as happy at the end.” Where snow is more wonderful than rain, than anything.

God, I loved this book. I love anything Bass writes but here you can see the line between his fiction and not-fiction is so slim and pliable it’s sometimes barely there at all. Even Kirby and Tricia of the short stories make their real-life appearance. But really, the reason fo
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a memoir of a young writer, Rick Bass, who in the late 1980’s spent a winter looking after a lodge in the coldest and most remote area of Montana, the Yaak Valley near the Canadian border. For Bass this is largely about getting away from civilization to write but also highlights the hardships, in an uplifting way, of living in an area where neighbors are miles away and when the roads are impassible the only communication is done by 60W radio, when it’s functioning.

The list of flora and f
Kerri Anne
Second only to Oil Notes (published in 1990), this is Bass' second book, and is really an edited journal of his first-ever winter in his beloved and still-wilder-than-most-wild-places Yaak Valley.

It's lovely and honest and endearing, a collection of notes on daily life in rugged, rural Montana creating a solid and formidably stunning sense of place: A window from which to view his wintry world, as it were.

All of Bass' books feel like such a gift to me, and this book in particular feels like a
In the late 1980's, a young Rick Bass and his wife were searching for the ideal rural location where a writer and his artist wife could let their creative juices flow. Southerner's themselves, they traveled to New Mexico and other southern locales hoping to find that perfect place to rent. Unfortunately, their budget pretty much ruled out a comfortable climate. A friend told them about Montana, and they headed north, ending up in a remote border town called Yaak.

The book is Rick Bass's memoir of
Feb 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of journalistic nature-writing with wit
Recommended to Matt by: Joey Beatty
I really loved this, the writings of the young and idealistic Rick Bass. It's inspiring in that it makes me want to love the real winters I get to experience, to find passion in bone-chilling cold, or difficulties like cars that won't start or furnaces that have issues. I love his writing discipline, and the way he buckles down and becomes a "real man," out of true necessity. The fact that he still lives in the Yaak Valley and has made his life there really shows the love he developed for such a ...more
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had never heard of Rick Bass before I picked up this terrific little book for a quarter in a library book sale. It’s a memoir of his first winter spent in Yaak Valley, Montana, aged 30 – a less mystical Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, if you will. “This valley shakes with mystery, with beauty, with secrets — and yet it gives up no answers...I’m falling away from the human race. I don’t mean to sound churlish — but I’m liking it.” (He wasn’t alone, though; he had with him his partner, artist Elizabeth ...more
Julie Stout
Oct 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
montana is a dreamland and what literary ambrosia to read someone waxing on about its beauty. I was in heaven as I read and experienced the passion that the author has for the wilderness, trees, and people who love them. Here are 2 great quotes on logging and Mormon missionaries: p.66: There's nothing that gets you as dirty as woodcutting. I thought roughnecking was bad. Roughnecking is a tea party, ginger cakes and lemonade. Roughnecking is washing your hands and blowing your nose with a lace h ...more
Apr 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is the memoir Rick Bass wrote about the first winter in Montana with his wife. They moved there to write and paint, and actually found some time to do that when they were not cutting wood or shivering. I loved this book. I would read it and bed and listen for snow flakes hitting the window, then remember that it was May, and we would not be getting any snow in Portland for another seven months. I'm looking forward to reading his fiction. Also, good interview with him in recent Tin House. ...more
Charles Boogaard
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the rare books I will read again. It captures something in me.
These lines from the book say it all "learn to love the cold, the winter. If you love the country, the landscape --if you really love the country-- then you may find yourself able to love it in the winter most of all."
Amy Beatty
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Just in love.... What can I say? I also feel I would do better in his world.
Dec 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
The second book I read, and one of my favorites, by Rick Bass, a writer I feel does not get the attention he deserves. Writing in the tradition of a modern day Walden, Bass recounts his journey from the city to the Yaak Valley in Montana, the most remote place he can find. Moving to a small cabin he finds out quickly just how little he knows about living in this harsh, new environment. As he adjusts he discovers a new life where only the bare essentials are needed to survive. Except for a handfu ...more
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So much brilliance in this book. Rick Bass, a Texan, moves with his girlfriend to caretake a ranch in the Northwest corner of Montana, where he finds his dream country and is ready to learn new things (like what's the deal with winter). 29, curious, thoughtful, he writes of wood, woods, trucks, fire, snow, neighbors, but mainly the joy of discovering wildness and loneliness that is Montana and especially Montana in winter. The book is a dated chronology like a journal, and a pleasure to read. ...more
Peter Gooch
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the finest meditations on season and place written in the last 50 years.
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Ravens call out as they fly through snow. They're surprised by it, I think, it starts up so quickly- one second a gunmetal sky, and the next all the snow emptying out of that gray color, tumbling down. That touches new corners of my brain, things never before seen or even imagined: the sight of a raven flying low through a heavy snowstorm, his coal-black, ragged shape winging through the white, the world trying to turn him upside down, trying to bury him, but his force, his speed, cutting throu ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Former southerner and oil man, Bass and his girlfriend get a caretaking job in the Yaak valley of Montana. He describes their first winter, a learning period for mountain survival. Beautiful, beautiful prose.
P.J. Lazos
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“It was early September and I was driving, literally, to the last road in the United States, a gravel-and-dirt road that paralleled the Canadian border, up in Montana’s Purcell Mountains. It was like going into battle, or falling in love, or walking from a wonderful dream, or falling into one: wading into cold water on a fall day.” - Rick Bass, Winter

Can Rick Bass help it if his Soul’s been on a nature walkabout for all of his life? In Winter [notes from montana], Bass’s wandering spirit is ali
Nov 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Lovely, short read. Probably would give this a 3.5 if I could... A few of the lines are really gems. It left me wanting a little more though. More winter, more people, deeper, just... More. I felt as if it scratched the surface of something wonderful, but never delivered the real "meat." For something similar, I much preferred Diary of a Wilderness Dweller by Chris C...

It does make me anxious for the winter, snow, and cold to arrive, though!
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Read this in 2001 or 2002. I enjoyed it so much, I don't think I put it down, even though I was in the midst of nursing school, writing papers and work. I enjoyed their fearlessness in taking on an unknown and quite isolated place amid a MT winter. It's as close as you can get to being a modern pioneer; I think.
Chuck Denison
Jul 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, living as I do in Montana. He captures the feelings of solitude and the reshaping of the soul which can happen in a Montana winter. He moved to a rural (no electricity) valley in MT from Mississippi and learned to love it. Then he describes that love.
Dec 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
I admit I am a sucker for a good memoir. I want to know what people think and why they do the things they do. The words and thoughts of Rick Bass drew me in and made me long for the engulfing cold and silence of winter and the life-enriching possibilities contained therein.
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
this is the book i first read upon moving to vermont, and it helped shape that first critical winter here. very important.
AJ Nolan
Jun 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Chronicles Bass's first year up in the Yaak Valley. Fantastic and inspiring read. Made me want to go cut firewood. ...more
Laura Ender
Mar 04, 2010 rated it liked it
I usually don't gravitate toward journal-style nonfiction, but this one was particularly well edited. ...more
Mar 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book made me a fan of Rick Bass. Yes, I read it in winter and was deeply absorbed by this man's story. ...more
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Poetic, simple, wonderful. I want to re-read this book and go back to hearing the snow fall in a remote Montana valley.
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What can I say? It's Rick Bass! Amazing writer and dedicated naturalist. I'd read his grocery list and love it. ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Such a treat to learn what it's like to move to remotest Montana and learn how to live there. ...more
L.V. Sage
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has been sitting in bookshelf for many, many years. I had tried to read it before, but it didn't grab me, however, I gave it a second try and am very glad I did.
Rick Bass' book is a song to the Montana outpost that he and his girlfriend, Elizabeth, and their two dogs call home. Coming from Texas and civilization and searching for a different way of life, the young couple find an instant affinity and love for the small and sparsely populated Yaak Valley in northern Montana. With only th
Apr 12, 2020 rated it liked it
It’s the 1980’s, a young Rick Bass and his girlfriend Elizabeth search the West for the right escape and home. You can read the reviews by others to get a sense of the journal he kept during their first winter in Yaak, Montana, home to 300 sparsely located inhabitants at that time. Check the map and you will find Yaak near the Canadian and Idaho borders. (If you watch Mountain Men, you will remember the couple that live in the log home outside of Yaak.) Back to the book, at times the author is w ...more
Amara Gardner
Jan 31, 2021 rated it liked it
This book is a somber look at a man trying to escape the world he had lived in for 30 years. He succeeds at convincing readers he wants to experience winter, the hard cold dark winter that not many of us know. There are several sections that I think are beautifully written, while others are a trip into his mind in a way that doesn't interest me as much. At times he seems earnest and at times he seems entitled to what he considers a "pure" lifestyle. It is a look into the mind of someone searchin ...more
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Rick Bass was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up in Houston, the son of a geologist. He studied petroleum geology at Utah State University and while working as a petroleum geologist in Jackson, Mississippi, began writing short stories on his lunch breaks. In 1987, he moved with his wife, the artist Elizabeth Hughes Bass, to Montana’s remote Yaak Valley and became an active environmentalist, wo ...more

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