The halloween tree
There it was, a shadow of inky branches baking under summer sunshine, but taunting autumn. Autumn. That is a Ray Bradbury word, i think, and so is Halloween. He was just a big boy to me, the grandpa i wouldve liked to have, a restless writer who popped words like caramel corn and firecrackers from an old typewriter. I imagined him trying to catch those words with a butterfly net, one at a time, and lay them on his blank pages before they got away. Whenever i had the pleasure of hearing him inspire publicly, or on the occasions i interviewed him side by side, my appetite for his descriptive abilities feasted. I wanted to run to a white canvas and paint it with his kind of nostalgic artistry. But he is Ray Bradbury, i am not. And i miss that he's not with us, that we lost his vision, his dreams built from a boyhood buried in libraries. Last night i cracked open "The Halloween Tree" because of that shadow i saw. It's always been one of my favorites of his, and if you have a heart for turning leaves, pumpkins, and attics rummaged for grease paint and old costumes, you'd fall in love with this classic. Every passage glows like streetlights in his midwestern setting. "Pipkin, oh dear Pipkin," he writes of his main character, "finest and loveliest of boys. How he ran so fast no one knew. His tennis shoes were ancient. They were colored green of forests jogged through, brown from old harvest trudges through September a year back, tar-stained from sprints along the docks and beaches where the coal barges came in, yellow from careless dogs, splinter-filled from climbing wood fences.” "The day Joe Pipkin was born," Bradbury writes, "all the Orange Crush and Nehi soda bottles in the world fizzed over." That last one is a mere half sentence, but it levels me. Because on the day Ray Bradbury was born, i prefer to think that autumn was, too.