Off-Ramp

A weekly look at Southern California life covering news, arts and culture, and more. Hosted by John Rabe

Remember Ray Bradbury; remember summer.

by John Rabe | Off-Ramp

Ray Bradbury in 1972. LA Public Library
I have an old friend who insisted you had to read the late Ray Bradbury's "Dandelion Wine" every summer. It's advice I've tried to take, because "Dandelion Wine" is one of those books that deals with fading, change, and death, yet brings you back to life, reminds you to seize the day. A few years ago, I discovered that KPCC's Molly Peterson shared my feelings about the book, so we talked about it on Off-Ramp, reading our favorite passages, and I've brought back that conversation every June. But this year, instead of just marking the start of summer, it marks the end of an era, when a giant walked the earth. With his prose poetry, whether set in leafy Illinois or a cemetery in LA or on Mars, Bradbury reminded us not just what it was to be human, but how best to be a human. KPCC's Molly Peterson, being our environment reporter, picked a telling excerpt as her favorite.

"Ready now, the rain barrel!"

Nothing else in the world would do but the pure waters which had been summoned from the lakes far away and the sweet fields of grassy dew on early morning, lifted to the open sky, carried in laundered clusters nine hundred miles, brushed with wind, electrified with high voltage, and condensed upon cool air. This water, falling, raining, gathered yet more of the heavens in its crystals. Taking something of the east wind and the west wind and the north wind and the south, the water made rain and the rain, within this hour of rituals, would be well on its way to wine.

Douglas ran with the dipper. He plunged it deep in the rain barrel. "Here we go!"

The water was silk in the cup; clear, faintly blue silk. It softened the lip and the throat and the heart, if drunk. This water must be carried in dipper and bucket to the cellar, there to be leavened in freshets, in mountain streams, upon the dandelion harvest.

And here's one of mine:

"Tom...does everyone in the world...know he's alive?" "Sure. Heck, yes!" The leopards trotted soundlessly off through darker lands where eyeballs could not turn to follow. "I hope they do," whispered Douglas. "Oh I sure hope they know."

Here's a video of Bradbury reflecting on the the day Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Bradbury is a little salty in the video, but he's in great form. Thanks to John King Tarpinian who sent us the video link.
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