“You did not hear them coming. You hardly heard them go. The grass bent down, sprang up again. They passed like cloud shadows downhill…
The boys of summer, running.” – Ray Bradbury
reading savoring a bit of Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine this summer for the first time in a long time. I’m not quite sure when I first happened upon the book. I loved Bradbury’s Sci-Fi stuff in high school. He was one of the few authors I would read for pleasure in those days. I probably picked it up thinking it would whisk me off to some other universe to tell a great truth about my own. I was in for a surprise instead. Dandelion Wine is a visit to yesteryear set here on Earth, and in a small town in Illinois at that – not too far removed from the Midwestern town I lived in at the time. While the book enchanted me with its retelling of a magical boyhood summer of 1928, it did in fact take me to another, future universe – my own. I just didn’t know it at the time.
It’s almost August and the back-to-school buzz is already loud in our ears. And I worry that maybe it’s been too busy of a summer. Through my adult eyes I see my work and our less-than-spotless home and the pressures of keeping all the balls juggling. And I wonder if they feel the magic. Have I done enough? Are we making memories yet? Have I failed to orchestrate the perfect summer for them?
But then I sneak a chapter at night as they sleep passed out from a full day of sun and dirt, or as they explore the merits of yet another new park, or as I ride in the passenger seat on the way to grandmas. And I remember how many times I’ve heard one of them proclaim that this day, Mom, is the best day ever. Until the next day, of course. And I remember that I am not the magic maker. I remember that just letting them be and go and do (as much as a four-year-old can) is part of the magic sometimes, too.
As I re-read this treasure this season, now with my own two boys of summer bending the grass, I’m finding the eyes to see it – the magic of a simple summer in Illinois- through theirs. What a gift.
If only they could stay this age forever…
A version of this post also appears on the Holli Long Photography blog.