An early birthday present to myself – Poetry Friday

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.

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12 Responses to An early birthday present to myself – Poetry Friday

  1. Diane Mayr says:

    Have fun at NESCBWI! Let us know how the wine comes out.

  2. jama says:

    It’s so cool that you’re making dandelion wine! It doesn’t matter how good it tastes, but that you made it because the book means so much to you.

  3. Tabatha says:

    The photo of the dandelions in water is beautiful in its own way. I’m very curious about what it will taste like! I hope you will give us an update.

  4. Wow – Dandelion Wine and Emily Dickinson in the same post – thank you for sharing all this today, Katya! Good luck with the wine. (And I always love a post that sends me to the dictionary. I didn’t know this Dickenson poem and had to look up “sepulture” – figured it had something to do with sepulcher, but I had to make sure.) Cheers!

  5. kczaja says:

    I’ll definitely post an update in December when we break open the wine (apparently the wine needs to age at least 6 months, traditionally it is made in May and opened on the Winter Solstice).
    @Tabatha the water with the dandelion petals is really beautiful in person. It is turning a wonderful shade of yellow.
    @Robyn I had to look up sepulture, too.

  6. What a great present to yourself and to us. An infinite Alas. I can’t stop saying that over and over to myself.

  7. Ruth says:

    I loved this post. I just read Dandelion Wine, finally, a few years after my brother started nagging me to read it. I wish I hadn’t waited so long! And the Emily Dickinson poem is perfect. Why DO people think dandelions are weeds?

  8. Linda Baie says:

    Oh my, Dandelion Wine is one of my very favorite books. I have read and re-read it, & taught it to my middle school students in the past. What a treasure & how wonderful to get the autograph on your book. And even more, to make it. The jar looks so enticing. I still remember those lines about the lawn mower sound, that beginning of summer that Bradbury described. And the poem by Dickinson. Although I love her words about dandelions, I really liked “An infinite Alas”. Her poems are just grand. You’ve made my day today, and I thank you, Katya!

  9. violet says:

    What a wonderful poem and moodling. I love the thought of drinking something to change the season in my veins. (The same must happen with grapes, wouldn’t you say?)

  10. Betsy says:

    This is all quite fascinating! I just recently heard about a dandelion beer, Magic Hat-Pistil, never tried it, but it is supposed to be refreshing. Maybe your dandelion wine won’t be terrible; I’ll be curious to hear! The Emily Dickinson poem paired with the Bradbury book in this post made me think of a fine wine paired with a delicious meal…perfect!

  11. Mary Lee says:

    Dang. When you get to the party late, all the good comments have been commented! Love the post, love the gift to yourself, love the May-Solstice aging period, love the book, love Emily’s poem…

  12. Advance Happy Birthday! And what a sophisticated, tasteful treat to yourself, dandelion wine, how beautiful-sounding. Do let me know if it tastes as good as it sounds. :) And I agree with Linda, the jar does look very cute too!