When I was small I made a conscious decision not to fear the dark. We lived in the middle of nowhere. Nighttime in Balm redefines darkness. Nevertheless, as we would walk into the dark house I would lead the way, trusting my knowledge of the house to lead me to my room. I do remember a nervous feeling as I looked inot the darkness around me, not knowing what it might be concealing. But in an act of defiance I would square my shoulders and march. Monsters had nothing on me. I knew where the light switch was.
As I’ve grown older what I knew as monsters have moved from my imagination, out from under my bed, out of my closet. They’ve taken up residence in my heart in the form of doubt. They’ve slowly taken up residence in my relationships, my belief system, and my confidence.
I had a pretty bad car accident a few years ago. It took me a few weeks to drive again. And though years have passed I often experience a seizing up as I’m driving. I see my Jeep flipping in the ditch along the Interstate. Or fear my brakes will fail.
I returned to university last fall. In the two weeks leading up to school I found myself almost paralyzed in anticipation of failure. Words have been a longtime friend of mine, yet I feared when put to the test they would fly away like so many birds.
It’s fitting that I’m reviewing this book today. It is, after all, officially Fall now. And though I know several of my friends greatly enjoy this time of year because it means that we can wear scarves and drink spiced hot drinks I find myself despondent over the close of Summer. I wish I had my own collection of Dandelion Wine stockpiled in the basement to keep away the Winter Blues. Little bottles of liquid sunshine; reminiscent of the bygone days of Summer.
This is actually the first complete collection I read. It introduced me to a wonderfully “down-home” Bradbury. The premise of the collection is set in 1920s Green Town, Illinois and young Douglas Spaulding in particular. The name of the collection is described in Douglas’ words as: “Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered.”
It’s a beautiful, fantasy filled romp through the last days of childhood. And though the time period was some 80 years before I read it, I felt connected to the story. It brought me back to the year we lived behind my grandparents in a camper. We planted rows of vegetables that we ate almost straight out of the ground. We had a fire every night and roasted marshmallows quite often. My bed was the couch and we had a little barn storage unit that was our closet. We were right on the edge of the woods and every day I would sneak back there and try to walk around as quietly as possible. I also remember eating a lot of cornbread. I learned to drive the 3wheeler then. I know now that it was a rough spot financially for my family, but I loved every minute of it. It was like an adventure all the time. (And it could be why I’m fascinated by Airstreams and want to live in one).