My job comes with many responsibilities, and I'm learning a lot as I take on this new role. Among other things, my job requires that I travel occasionally. While I wouldn't want to make it a daily thing, traveling occasionally for work can be exciting, even if it's only to small, remote locations. One sure way to get acquainted with coworkers is driving through the cornfields of Oklahoma in a base model rental car during a thunderstorm. While preparing for the trip, I naturally packed reading materials. After a few bad experiences with my Kindle in airports, I always bring paper books in my luggage as well. This time I went for two of my favorites: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway and Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I never enjoyed The Old Man and the Sea, but Jake Barnes gets me every time. There's something supremely romantic, yet utterly depressing about these sad, lost expatriates surviving Paris and Pamplona.
However, for this particular trip, I gravitated towards Bradbury, possibly because of his recent death, or possibly because this book takes me back to the hot Texas summers of my youth. If you've shied away from Bradbury because of the science fiction label, this book will make you reconsider. The way Bradbury describes the start of summer in the mythical Green Town, Ill., as told through the eyes of 12-year-old Douglas Spaulding, is magical. I can smell the freshly cut grass and taste the tartness of the dandelion wine.
I try to read this book every summer because it brings me back to simpler times before work and obligations got in the way of a joyous, carefree summer. As we drove through the sprawling Oklahoma countryside, I could almost remember.