8.19.2010

Dandelion Wine

Dandelion Wine should be read in summer. It took some time for me to get into, and there are some beautiful passages and other whole sections that I thought were boring. Sometimes I thought, "I liked this better when it was Our Town." However, when Mr. Bradbury covers death and other goodbyes, I'm all in.

Colonel Freeleigh is the Time Machine. He remembers the Civil War and buffalo stampedes, things no one else in the town can access. (He is "a breathing time machine," to quote my musical obsession of the past four months.)

John Huff leaving town during the game of "Statues" was touching.

I also enjoyed the love story of Bill Forrester and Helen Loomis:

"I know you...I was in love with you once," he said.

"Now that's the way I like a conversation to open." She dug quietly at her ice cream.

Douglas, the 12-year-old main character makes a list based on his experience that summer:

YOU CAN'T DEPEND ON PEOPLE BECAUSE

...they go away.

...strangers die.

...people you know fairly well die.

...friends die.

...your own folks can die.


Now that is a list after my own heart, much like opening a conversation with "I was in love with you once."

Douglas makes two lists in a notepad about the summer of 1928. One list is "Rites and Ceremonies", the other is "Discoveries and Revelations." I loved that idea. And being out in Shirley when I was finishing the book made me think of those rites and ceremonies over the years. When we were kids there were wild blueberries in the overgrown lot next door. We played the "Hat Game" that our grandfather taught us, and this year I struggled to remember the rules. (Becky remembered one key ingredient, which was when you retrieved the ball from your hat, you yelled "HALT!" to make the other players freeze.) We used to throw a tennis ball on the slanted roof and catch it when it bounced off. This was typically accompanied by a lot of parental yelling. On the beach, Becky, Erin, and I would play in the sand and pretend we worked at Carvel. Our imaginary customers were always mean to us, so with a sassy retort we would throw the sand ice cream cones in their fat invisible faces. In recent years, the rites and ceremonies involve tabloid magazines, beer, Roy Rogers, Shark Week, and wondering where they import those lifeguards from. Also: bonfires and S'MORES (and always buying those long skewers even though there's already a package in the cabinet from last year). Another thing, though, is that Dad's cousins are there, so a recent blessing is I hear stories about my parents when they were young, what their summers were like.

The book made me remember lightning bugs (though it calls them "fireflies"), their existence, and how I haven't seen one in ages.

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