The Letter D (A-to-Z Challenge)

D

Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury

 

It’s typical that I stumbled onto this challenge only two or three days before it started, and it’s also typical that it didn’t occur to me that it would have been possible even then to write up at least a couple of the entries ahead of time.*  I also read the calendar wrong (and now I can’t even find it) and I thought that we didn’t post on weekends, but this morning’s email brought notifications of Letter D posts from some of my new friends.  So, instead of spending a cozy weekend mulling over Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine and posting a carefully considered essay on Monday as I had planned to do, I’ll just dash off a short post quickly because A) if I miss one day I will collapse into a puddle of failure and give up on the whole project, and more importantly B) Dandelion Wine is a terrific book and I really want to share it with you.

Dandelion Wine is a memoir of Bradbury’s childhood in Waukegan, Illinois, a blessed but not unordinary childhood recalled by a gifted thinker and writer who treasured his family and his friends and saw the magic behind the ordinary of everything.  Here is a bit of a poem he includes in his introduction:

 

…While by the porch-rail calm and bold

His words pure wisdom, stare pure gold

My grandfather, a myth indeed,

Did all of Plato supersede

While Grandmother in rockingchair

Sewed up the raveled sleeve of care

Crocheted cool snowflakes rare and bright

To winter us on summer night.

And uncles, gather with their smokes

Emitted wisdoms masked as joked,

And aunts as wise as Delphic maids

Dispensed prophetic lemonades

To boys knelt there as acolytes

To Grecian porch on summer nights;

Then went to bed, there to repent

The evils of the innocent;

The gnat-sins sizzling in their ears

Said, through the nights and through the years

Not Illinois nor Waukegan

But blither sky and blither sun.

Though mediocre all our Fates

And Mayor not as bright as Yeats

Yet still we knew ourselves.  The sum?

Byzantium.

Byzantium.

Set in the summer of 1928, Dandelion Wine is a memoir of childhood that speaks to all of us no matter when or where we grew up.  

You smell the dust and feel the sun of your own twelfth summer, blink in the dazzling green and gold of June, shiver in the cool damp grass in the chill of early evening. You remember picking blackberries, the creak of the porch swing at dusk, the whir of the mower as your older brother cuts the grass.  You feel again the sinking of your heart when your best friend moved away from town, the day your own grandmother slipped away on down the shore, you remember your own elderly friends and neighbors now long gone.

The end of the introduction:

I see my grandfather there looking up at that strange drifting light, thinking his own thoughts.  I see me, my eyes filled with tears, because it was all over, the night was done, I knew there would never be another night like this.

No one said anything.  We all just looked up at the sky and we breathed out and in and we all thought the same things, but nobody said.  Someone finally had to say, though, didn’t they?  And that one is me.

The wine still waits in the cellars below.

My beloved family still sits on the porch in the dark.

The fire balloon still drifts and burns in the night sky of an as yet unburied summer.

Why and how?

Because I say it is so.

 

Maudlin, you say?  It is not.  Read and see.

See you tomorrow for Letter E,

<KK>

*I clicked back to to a late March pre-challenge post on someone’s interesting blog yesterday and in that post he mentioned that he was working night and day cranking out his alphabet entries for April.  I also noticed that someone else hits ‘post’ at exactly 12:00 a.m. each day.  What?  I thought we were supposed to write them in the morning and post them in the afternoon.

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6 Responses to “The Letter D (A-to-Z Challenge)”

  1. shirleyjdietz Says:

    Look, this is my second year of this madness and all I can say is do it whichever way you want to. Just have fun. As long as you are posting regularly probably no one will notice if you take a Saturday off too. If I have to miss a day, I do two the next. But yes, try to keep up or you will get overwhelmed. Lol. I have always loved Bradbury.

  2. Lise Mendel Says:

    Love Bradbury. Everything he touches turns to sadness and magic.

  3. Sarah Ferguson Says:

    I’ve never read this! Come to think of it, I am not sure I have ever read any Bradbury.

    (I got here from the A to Z Challenge – I have been enjoying your posts (and definitely schedule the posts, it makes life much easier)).

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