Dandelion Wine: A Book Review

Posted by on Jun 19, 2013 in My Blog | Leave a comment

“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.” ~ Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury.

Dandelion WineDandelion Wine was the first book I ever stole.  Actually, it’s the only book I ever stole.  Maybe there have been a few that I haven’t returned to their rightful owners (oops), but I always meant to give them back.  The difference between those books and Dandelion Wine was that I never intended to give Dandelion Wine back to my high school, where I read it for the first time.  It touched me so deeply that when it came time to turn it in at the end of the year, I simply couldn’t.  This was before the Internet.  Back then, if you lost the trail of something, you might never pick it up again.  I couldn’t take that chance, so I stole it.

Why?  Because I’m a Summer Lover.  I love everything about summer.  And so does Douglas Spaulding, the 12 year old hero of Dandelion Wine, who wakes up to his life during the summer of 1928.  The book takes place in Green Town Illinois an alias for Bradbury’s real hometown of Waukegan, Illinois.  It’s a semi-autobiographical tale that reaches back in time to search for those moments in life that rise above all others.  It’s a tale that ritualizes the ordinary, names the unnamed, and reveals truths that we all come to understand when we hit a certain age.

And what does this have to do with a flower web site, you ask?  Dandelions.  They grow for free on lawns in towns and cities and fields all around us.  It’s a flower that is more noted as a nuisance than a pleasure because they are often unwanted intruders that dot our lawns and elicit nasty looks from neighbours if we don’t manage them.  Ironically, their ubiquity has caused them to lose their power.  But, there was a time when people believed in the healing powers of flowers, including Dandelions.

“Even Grandma, when snow was whirling fast, dizzying the world, blinding windows, stealing breath from gasping mouths, even Grandma, one day in February, would vanish to the cellar.  Then rising from the cellar like a June goddess, Grandma would come, something hidden but obvious under her knitted shawl.  This, carried to every miserable room upstairs and down would be dispensed with aroma and clarity into neat glasses, to be swigged neatly.  The medicines of another time, the balm of sun and idle August afternoons, the faintly heard sounds of ice wagons passing on brick avenues, the rush of silver skyrockets and the fountaining of lawn mowers moving through and countries, all these, all these in a glass.” ~Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury

P1040314-copy-(1)webWe could take a cue from the Spaulding family and revere our Dandelions, dents de lion, from the French ‘teeth of lions’, which the yellow petals are said to resemble.  It is said that Dandelions stand for loyalty and faithfulness.  Or, in the contradictory world of flower meanings, it’s also a ‘rustic oracle’.  With all this magnificent history, they can’t be so bad.  So, let’s celebrate this golden flower:

We can make healthy snacks:
“They Might Be Weeds, but Wild Greens Pack a Nutritious Punch”

Brew up some wine:
Dandelion Wine Recipe

Make Dandelion Root Coffee:
Dandelion Root Coffee Recipe

Make friends with them.  Or be environmentally responsible if you have to rid your yard of them:
My Dandelion Is A Flower
Or just sit outside on a warm summer day and read or listen to a wonderful tale of summers past.  In honour of the first day of Summer, which is right around the corner, I think I’ll dig out my old copy of Dandelion Wine.  It’s not summer without it by my side.



And there, row upon row, with the soft gleam of flowers opened at morning, with the light of this June sun glowing through a faint skin of dust, would stand the dandelion wine.  Peer through it at the wintry day – the snow melted to grass, the trees were reinhabitated with bird, leaf, and blossoms like a continent of butterflies breathing on the wind.  And peering through, color sky from iron to blue. ~Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury


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