Sunday, September 20, 2009

Farewell Summer

"To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie -
True Poems flee."
~Emily Dickinson

Summertime. I picture myself reading in a hammock or at the beach with a book under a colorful umbrella, sipping iced tea. Although moments like that are actually rare for me, summer symbolizes a time of relaxation, of enjoying the outdoors and some sunshine, of being more carefree.

In early June, during the unofficial start of summer, I read and reviewed Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I'd always associated this author solely with science fiction, until I was introduced to Dandelion Wineon Christie's blog, Belly Acre Farms, which led me to learn more about this book. After reading Dandelion Wine, I vowed to read the sequel, Farewell Summer, at the summer's end.

And here we are. A new season is about to begin. The autumnal equinox is on Sept. 22. And although we may still have some hot weather in Southern California, the changes are becoming evident. The days are getting shorter. The kids are back in school. The leaves are beginning to change colors (we do see the burnished colors of fall here, although not as dramatically as elsewhere). And somehow, everything seems a bit more somber, moody even.
"Clouds passed over the lawn. And when the sun came out, in the pantry, Grandma almost whispered, Summer, farewell. "
~Farewell Summer, Ray Bradbury
Published in 2006, after a nearly fifty year gap, Farewell Summer is the sequel to Dandelion Wine, which was published in 1957. The story in Farewell Summer takes place in 1929, set during an Indian summer in fictitious Green Town, Illinois (based on Waukegan, Ill.). In the book the summer is actually lingering into October--an Indian summer--but Douglas Spaulding and his friends know that it won't last much longer. Douglas, now 14, and his cohorts, have waged a civil war against the old timers in the neighborhood, especially Mr. Quartermain from the school board. This book takes place two years after Dandelion Wine, and the boys are at the height of their youthful exuberance, full of mischief and prone to pranks. They do not want to get old like Quartermain--or to have the responsibilities of the adult world, which loom on the horizon. The boys think that if they stop the clock atop the courthouse they can extend the summer, by literally stopping time. But time marches on; it can't be stopped.

Or can it? I wonder if, in a way, Ray Bradbury does successfully stop time, or at least slow its passage. By waiting nearly half a century between the two books, he does, in a sense, freeze time. This book takes up where the other one left off. I'm sure Bradbury could have finished the sequel sooner--was such a long pause intentional? And maybe the idea is also that our internal and eternal memories, of the summer or any other time, make us ageless. We still have our childhood, our youth, inside of us, to be summoned at will, to be remembered, to make us smile, to give us more time, like an everlasting summer.


  1. I really need to read more by Bradbury. So far I've only read 451, and that was just last week.

    Fall is finally coming here, too. We're having cold fronts that knock us to the mid-80s. I feel so pathetic saying that but mid-80s feels so good after a summer of 60+ day of 100+ temps. I can't wait for the equinox and for standing up eggs! We always stand eggs on the equinox. :)

  2. Looking forward to cooler weather as well. It's already in the low 40's at night and high 60's by kind of weather. I am planning to read a Bradbury book in October: A Graveyard for Lunatics.

  3. Fall has begun in the South. The rain is relentless which is always a precursor to chilly weather. I love this time of year but hate the rain!

  4. Thank you for this lovely review. I definitely need to catch up on Bradbury--there is a huge gap on the bookshelf where he should be (though the rest of the household has read some of his science fiction). The Dickinson quote at the top is perfect!

  5. Amanda, tell me more about the eggs when you have a moment. Or blog about it!

    Diane, the book you mention sounds perfect for the new season. I'd like to hear your thoughts about it.

    Kim, send some rain this way, will you?

    ds, thank you so much for your kind words. I hope you'll read and post about Bradbury in the future.

    As always, I welcome more comments.

  6. Have you read Bradbury's short story, The Veldt?

  7. I think that both of these books sound like good reads and I think that I'll have to add it to my TBR list. Great review and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  8. Charley, I haven't read The Veldt. I'm guessing that I should since you mention it.

    Samantha, thanks!

  9. I had no idea the Dandelion Wine had a sequel! It's very cool to find to find that out. I read it quite a few years ago, so I will probably have to go for a reread before I get to Farewell Summer. Great review, very informative!

  10. God! I can't understand a 50 year wait for te sequel to come out.. I really have not read anything by this author... so I kind of dnt understand!

  11. "Clouds passed over the lawn. And when the sun came out, in the pantry, Grandma almost whispered, Summer, farewell. "
    ~Farewell Summer, Ray Bradbury

    What a wonderful excerpt and so appropriate for today. I'm going to be reading Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes for the Fall into Reading 2009 challenge. It has been quite awhile since I have ready anything by him and I'm very excited about it, especially after your post reminded me what a great author he is.


  12. Zibliee, thanks so much!

    Veens, fifty years is a long time between a series of books. I think part of it was published prior to 2006.

    yesterdaystuna, thank you for your comment; I look forward to reading your review on Something Wicked This Way Comes.

  13. I havent read Bradbury yet, I need to though.
    What a nice thought, that our memories make us ageless.
    Great Emily Dickinson quote too!

  14. Naida, I thought you'd enjoy the Emily Dickinson poem. :)

  15. This sounds like a good book - I definitely need to check out more Bradbury. I loved his short stories that I read back in high school American Lit . . . I don't know why it has taken me so long to start reading his novels!

  16. Laura, since you enjoy reading classic literature, I think you'd enjoy reading Bradbury's novels.

    Thanks for all the comments--more welcomed as always.


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