The End of Summer & Ray Bradbury

HI 89 / LO 57, wind calm


“It’s not you I worry about,” said Douglas. “It’s the way God runs the world.”

Tom thought about this for a moment. “He’s all right, Doug,” said Tom. “He tries.”

from “Dandelion Wine,” by Ray Bradbury

This conversation, between two preteen brothers, occurs late in Bradbury’s novel, which is set in the summer of 1928 in Green Town, Illinois.

The story is a bit disjointed, but still magical. Think of it as “Calvin & Hobbes” without the stability of Hobbes. (Yes, I did just write that Hobbes is the stability of that comic strip.) So what you have is Calvin—here, Douglas—experiencing the world during a single summer, with a mixture of things that might or might not be real. It is a summer of discoveries. 1) He is alive. 2) He will die. 3) “Was there, then, no strength in growing up? No solace in being an adult?”

Of course not. But that’s a big thing to discover when you’re 12. It’s a big thing to conclude that God running the world may not actually be very comforting.

“He’s all right, Doug,” said Tom. “He tries.”

School started here on Monday. Our summer? It was all right. We tried.

In the story, Douglas’s grandmother tells him, “And you don’t yell when your body makes itself over every seven years or so, old cells dead and new ones added to your fingers and your heart. You don’t mind that, do you?”

I’m 42, so I guess I’m on my sixth remaking. I didn’t notice the new cells at first, but I guess I did start noticing pain in my fingers back around spring break. Then my left heel started acting up in June. Did I mind? Now that I know it’s just part of death and life and all that, I’ll answer with Douglas.




  1. just the words end of summer and illinois…i get wistful.
    that coming from a person who was a tom boy in a small town in southern illinois when the fifties turned into the sixties… and there were cicada shells on tree bark to find, and corn fields to play in…and my new cells were clueless in a good way.

  2. Wow, that remaking of the self, or at least the body, again and again. Unforgettable image there, like the snake shedding its skin and sliding out fresh and ready for a new season. It’s nice to know, though, that the old is in some ways released as we move on down the timeline of life.

  3. My oldest had to read that book for an AP English class last year. Maybe I should have read along? People around here are book hogs. So I have to stand in line. No one shares.

    I’ve been thinking of you. I keep getting further and further behind on practical things. But I canned some green beans and tomatoes today and I feel pretty good about that. Procrastination has never been better disguised. Sending hugs your way.

  4. I’ve never read any Ray Bradbury. Maybe it’s time. Your writing style and word choice always make me think, pay attention, wonder. That’s a gift, my friend. Truly.