Rick Bass, Oil Notes

I've written already about this book that I will re-read often over the next few years. The writing is so beautiful. Rather than take another passage apart or try to convey what the book is like, here's a passage without comment beyond this: it is the best, most poetic prose I have read in five years. Rick Bass's writing makes me almost insane with envy. Time to get to work catching up. 

This is from pages 168-169 of the trade paperback edition. 


This farm is meant for me. I was watching a pine cone at the end of a branch this morning, and with no wind it fell. Just dropped, and bounced. I did not go over to pick it up; I was frightened to touch it or look at it. There was no telling what it could mean. I went and put on my tennis shoes and ran through the field and down through the woods until I was sweaty and breathing hard. I came out on a gravel road, and sad down, and panted. A white dog from someone’s farm came trotting up. I petted him. Then I walked out to the main road, came back around to my house the long way, and things seemed better. I took a bath in the big old claw-footed tub I have and shaved and combed my hair and drove into Terry and bought a can of Gatorade and two bananas. 
    Still, I did not stare too long at anything on a tree, anywhere, for quite some time; I averted my glances as if it were a question of modesty. 

*   *   *

I am fascinated with leaves these days. It is fall, and they are turning nicely this year. They give the trees, plum and pear and apple and oak, hickory, cottonwood, elm and willow, what seems to be the most tempting of messages. I want to stare, I fell there’s something I’m missing that’s right in front of my face, but also if I stare too long and still fail to see it, the leaves will give up on me and stop trying to show me. So I watch out of the corners of my eyes. I feel very humbled. 
    Winter will come. I’ll build fires over at Elizabeth’s mother’s house. I’ll forget the leaves for another year. We will make spiced tea and popcorn. Trees should be trees, and people, people. I don’t know why some people get sad in the fall, even while claiming paradoxically that it is their favorite time of year. 
    I should have put the pinecone in a mayonnaise jar and screwed the lid on and kept it next to my bed, or on the dashboard of my truck, for magic. 
    I was frightened. 
    There is a territoriality, a distance, that sets us apart from each other, and I do now know if that is good or bad. I don’t know whether to hold on or let go. I don’t think any of us ever knows, right up until the last moment. 

--Rick Bass, Oil Notes (168-169)