Sunday, 17 of December of 2017

Rick Bass On The Passing Of Jim Harrison

To see full version of this article, go here.

I was visiting my youngest daughter in the Texas Hill Country when a friend emailed the news. All weekend — before I’d heard, and then after — I’d encountered a profusion of wildlife. That morning, I walked right up on a foraging raccoon and, a short while later, an opossum, then a blue heron. At dusk, a band of wild hogs, the black piglets no larger than footballs, the boar with curved tusks several inches long. Everything I saw was always just a few steps away. It was like a damned Disney movie.


Sitting with my daughter in the shade of the boulders above the creek that next afternoon, we watched as a giant aoudad — an exotic species of wild sheep that prosper now in the rockiest reaches of the Hill Country — came clattering down through the rocks to within 20 yards of us. It was a gnarly old ram with curved horns, a long beard, and the wild yellow eyes of a goat.

He never saw us. He walked right on, his hoofs clopping the granite.

That evening, as coyotes were beginning to yip at the base of Hudson Mountain, I went for a short walk in that last hour of light, when the sun is gone and the world is seen only in silhouette. I was drinking a beer on Burned-Off Hill and thinking, in that crepuscular hour, of Jim.

It’s an ancient, easy ceremony, but I did it anyway: poured a splash of my beer onto the stony ground in remembrance of Jim — a taste, a gulp, for the earth he had loved so much. In that moment, a hawk came flying low and straight at me. It passed right above me, almost close enough to touch, and on into the darkness. Not an owl, but a large hawk, just like the ones that populate Jim’s poems and fiction. The hair on my arms and neck prickled. You don’t see hawks at night. Another three beats of darkness fell, another four beats.

I emptied the rest of my can, just in case he was thirsty — he probably was — and then walked on back down off the hill.

To see full version of this article, go here.

Click to see Armed With Visions multi-media presentation of Jim Harrison’s Alien