I have a summer ritual. It’s not a secret thing, something you know you should keep to yourself so I can share it here – Summer doesn’t officially begin until I start reading Dandelion Wine.
The first time I read Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine I was in high school – stuck in a study hall I didn’t need, surrounded by kids I didn’t know, the sort of circumstance that pushes you to read anything you find in the back of a grubby school desk. I don’t know who left that worn copy behind but I wish I could thank them.
Reading it will take a month worth of beach days under a flapping umbrella, a handful of camping mornings waiting for the coffee to boil, a few rainy afternoons in the back room where the steady drumming of raindrops makes you so sleepy you drop off in the middle of a page.
The book will be carted around in canvas bags lined with sand. It will bounce around behind the driver’s seat of the truck. It will hover on the edge of a blanket where Speck will try to snag it in his jaws so he can hide under the picnic table and chew in peace. But, by August’s end I will finish the book. I will smooth the bent page corners, tuck the tattered paper jacket around the cover’s edge and place it back on the bottom shelf of the bookcase until next June, when Solstice arrives to remind me.
“I mustn’t forget I’m alive, I know I’m alive. I mustn’t forget it tonight or tomorrow or the day after that. “ – Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury