Place dandelion blossoms into boiling water, let sit for four minutes, remove and discard blossoms, let water cool…Stir in sugar, orange, lemon and yeast…and you are on your way to aging tasty dandelion wine.*
In his book Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury drew from the experiences that 12-year-old Douglas brought together during the summer of 1928. In fall, they were bottled as savory dandelion wine. Through this metaphor, we receive a taste of events that became blossoms in the wine that was in-the-making. The delight of Doug’s new tennis shoes in the spring, terrifying adventures in a ravine, events focused on the Happiness Machine, Grandpa’s demand for real rather than artificial grass, the deaths of people Douglas knew, including his own near-death experience, became ingredients for the dandelion wine Grandpa was brewing—wine made of dandelion flowers, wine made metaphorically of events in Doug’s life during the summer.
In the brewing of the wine of my life, I’ve dropped in many blossoms. My dandelion wine holds childhood games; hide and seek has been stirred in well as has Tiny, our pet milk cow. My first date in high school and my jitters as my sister and I debated in tournaments have landed in the brew with a splash. Swirling in from the edges I find my mixed emotions—excited for new experiences and dread at leaving home—when I started college 100 miles away. For several months, the wine seemed cloudy as I accustomed myself to my new apparel when I entered the first stage of life in my Benedictine monastery. At times, the brew bubbled joyfully as I engaged with junior high students in learning—intellectually and socially. For a few hours, the liquid turned white and stood still when I added the awe of encountering Mount Rainier when our plane flew alongside it as we moved into Seattle. For a long stretch of time, the wine was locked in darkness when my dad died suddenly of a heart attack in 1970. The wine became golden with an orange tint when the blossom of my 50th anniversary of my commitment to my Benedictine community became absorbed into the brew…
Now when I look at the dandelion wine of my life, I notice that if I recall and focus, I can see specific events. When I taste my wine, it can be sour, sweet, tart, stirring of my spirit, lulling me to sleep. I note: What am I tasting? What mood am I in as I sip? I am grateful as I savor my wine. I know more blossoms will be added before the bottle is finally corked. When it is capped, I will take it with me to serve to those at my unending and glorious wine party. We will toast to the life each of us has lived and celebrate how many of us have assisted each other to brew our own wine.
Mary Reuter, OSB
Photo by Jonas on Pexels