dandelion

One felicitous thing about being in the dating world is the opportunity to meet a variety of people and talk with them one-on-one. One man I dated briefly expressed an appreciation for the novel Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury.

I read The Martian Chronicles many years ago and consider it to be a masterpiece. Truly, truly, if you would like to read a masterpiece, crack open The Martian Chronicles.

Prompted to curiosity by my date’s recommendation of another Bradbury book, I read Dandelion Wine last week. True to form, Bradbury, in this gem of a book, produces some of the most beautiful writing I have encountered in a long time. For example, check out this description of new shoes:

“Somehow the people who made tennis shoes knew what boys needed and wanted. They put marshmallows and coiled springs in the soles and they wove the rest out of grasses bleached and fired in the wilderness. Somewhere deep in the soft loam of the shoes the thin hard sinews of the buck deer were hidden. The people that made the shoes must have watched a lot of winds blow the trees and a lot of rivers going down to the lakes. Whatever it was, it was in the shoes, and it was summer.”

One may take issue with the sentimentality and narrow cultural scope of the book—I will, myself, in a future blog post—but not with the writing. The writing is gorgeous. So for now, let’s shut off the analytical side of our brains and let the romantic side run rampant. Let’s glory in the beauty of summers past:

Dandelion Wine is set in the summer of 1928, the era of Bradbury’s own childhood. This is the tail end of the Roaring Twenties, regarded, from the vantage of the future, as a time of endless luxury and fun and ease: the last year before the stock market crash.

As for the title, what is dandelion wine? I would like to try this recipe one summer. But dandelion wine is more than a mere recipe or delicious drink in the world of the novel. It’s a way of bottling up summer, so one can savor it all winter long. And by extension, the novel itself bottles up childhood so the adult can savor it, again and again.

I do this. In summer, I process veggies from my garden and freeze them. In winter, I relish taking the iced-over bags and containers and jars out of the freezer and using their contents to make dinner—and, yes, they have much more meaning for me than mere sustenance. I also keep and display knickknacks that are important to me, not in and of themselves, but because they represent something powerfully good in my past.

How have you bottled up the best of your past?

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