When I was a twelve, I read Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. I was instantly smitten with the poetry of his writing. “Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered.” When Bradbury came to Ann Arbor in the mid 90’s, I asked him to autographed my dog-eared copy of that book. Since I was twelve, I have wanted to make dandelion wine every spring when the dandelions come out.
I finally went after that childhood dream; we collected a bucket full of dandelion flower. I spent the afternoon plucking the petals:
The petals will soak for two days in a gallon of spring water:
My fingers are stained yellow and smell strongly of dandelion.
Sitting down at my computer I thought of Emily Dickinson’s dandelion poem. She appreciated the dandelion’s season-transcending power:
The Dandelion’s pallid tube
Astonishes the Grass,
And Winter instantly becomes
An infinite Alas —
The tube uplifts a signal Bud
And then a shouting Flower, —
The Proclamation of the Suns
That sepulture is o’er.
Come December I will go into the basement “[a]nd there, row upon row, with the soft gleam of flowers opened at morning, with the light of this June sun glowing through a faint skin of dust, would stand the dandelion wine. Peer through it at a wintry day — the snow melted to grass, the trees were reinhabited with bird, leaf, and blossom like a continent of butterflies breathing in the wind.” On my birthday I will “change the seasons in [my] veins by raising glass to lip and tilting summer in.”
Or at least that’s the dream.
In reality, the wine will probably taste terrible — there must be a reason you don’t see it at the wine store. Or come out as vinegar or worse because I’ve never made wine before. And I’ll be left wondering what all the fuss is about. Have you ever made it? Wanted to make it? Do you think dandelion wine is as transcendant as Bradbury makes it out to be?
For more poetry, head on over to Random Noodling where there’s a wonderful poem about a mountain I love, Mount Monadnock.
If any of you are going to the NESCBWI conference, I’ll be there on Sunday and I’d love to grab a coffee.