"In a few days I will be dead. No." She put up her hand. "I don't want you to say a thing. I'm not afraid. When you live as long as I've lived you lose that, too. I never liked lobster in my life, and mainly because I'd never tried it. On my eightieth birthday I tried it. I can't say I'm greatly excited over lobster still, but I have no doubt as to its taste now, and I don't fear it. I dare say death will be a lobster, too, and I can come to terms with it."
Death will be a lobster, too…
In the above paragraph from Ray Bradbury’s classic novel, Dandelion Wine, Helen Loomis comes to terms with the inevitability of aging and death by comparing the phenomenon to eating a lobster. She conquers her fear of the ultimate unknown in a mundane and shoulder-shrug sort of way, by routinely relegating this experience to just another necessary, fanfare-free “to-do.” Lobster? Check. Death? Meh. Does it come with melted butter on the side?
This excerpt immediately came to mind last Tuesday when, on my thirtieth birthday, I serendipitously received the gift of… a live lobster.
In the mail.
On the precise day of my trip over the hill.
An enormous, antennae all over the place, pinchers-pinching, cooler full of some-assembly-required seafood straight from Maine’s “Lobster Man” to me, courtesy of some incredibly thoughtful friends in Texas… who knew nothing about this literary association between death and the crustacean family.
After all of the sly comments about how I wasn’t in my twenties anymore, about how I should be wearing purple, about how it was all downhill from here, could someone actually be making an obviously not-funny joke about the proximity of 30 to the capital-E End by sending me a grim reaper lobster?...
For Word on Fire blog contributor Ellyn von Huben, summertime means books. Sometimes they're new, sometimes they're old, but they're always worthwhile. Today she reflects on author Ray Bradbury, who passed away last week at the age of 91.
Summertime, and the living's easy.
And what makes it easy, when faced with heat, humidity, mosquitoes? Because when school is out, you have unlimited time to read anything you want. I have been out of school for a long, long time but that summertime reading feeling has persisted long past the last diploma, long past the days of the library summer reading club where we each ‘grew’ construction paper caterpillars with a segment for each book read.
When the days grow longer and warmer I start to consider my summertime reads, which usually includes rereading favorites. Some Shirley Jackson, E.L. Doctorow’s “Ragtime,” and of course, Walker Percy’s “Love in the Ruins.”
The sad news of the death of Ray Bradbury not only touched me, but nudged me to put that long ago favorite “Dandelion Wine” on my reread list. Oh, how I loved that book. I read it over many summers, enjoying the nostalgic picture it painted. Those I considered to be ‘scary’ parts made it perfect for hot summer nights. My neighborhood gang (and I use gang in the happy, suburban 1960’s sense) had even endeavored to make our own dandelion wine. This was a comic disaster, as we clearly had not absorbed from our reading that it is the petals of the dandelion that are crushed and distilled to create the elixir for winter. We wound up with a tub of decaying dandelion greens. The odor became too disgusting, and we moved on to some other adventure...