Boys of Summer

“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

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I’m 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.

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If only they could stay this age forever…

 

A version of this post also appears on the Holli Long Photography blog

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