A birthday toast for a master

Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered.

Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury


I’m not certain when I first read Dandelion Wine, though it was probably about a decade or so ago, during the years when I had a fantastic used-book store to browse through and worked my way through a lot of Ray Bradbury’s books. Ever since, I’ve wondered idly what dandelion wine really tasted like, and while I was able to find dandelion jelly, of all things, I never ran across dandelion wine.

At last, this summer at a craft fair, we happened to stop by the booth of Kirkwood Winery, and there it was (along with elderberry, strawberry, pear — basically every fruit you could think of to make wine from, and a few vegetables thrown in too).

So tonight, in honor of what would have been Ray Bradbury’s 93rd birthday, we open the bottle of dandelion wine, and I drink to summers in a time I never knew, and all the worlds that never were, and the man who brought them all to us.

Hold summer in your hand, pour summer in a glass, a tiny glass of course, the smallest tingling sip for children; change the season in your veins by raising glass to lip and tilting summer in.

I notice the Kirkwood Winery description says “ask your grandparents how this one tastes!” Some might be able to, and if so, you’re lucky. If not?

Ask Ray Bradbury. Because just as you can bottle a bit of summer to keep against the snows, you can keep a whole time, a whole world, a whole universe in a single story, safely preserved in words, all still sweet and tingling and true.

Bradbury often told the story of an encounter he had at age 12 with a magician called Mr. Electrico — who, during the course of his act, touched Bradbury on the head with an electrified sword and told him, “Live forever!” Whoever that Mr. Electrico was, he knew his stuff; it was both a command and a prediction.

Happy birthday, Mr. Bradbury. May you truly live forever.

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