All Summer in a Day


“All Summer in a Day”

By Ray Bradbury

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction 1954

2018 beamed as bright as a Broadway marquee at the end of 2017. A brightness that most Januaries cannot live up to. Portland has been dark and rainy and something close to cold. (I can’t complain too much about the winters here compared to mine in New Hampshire.) The first winter anywhere is probably the hardest. It is so easy to stay inside, asleep and alone. I know to take Vitamin D pills, to eat leafy greens, to exercise, travel, and laugh as much as I can in January and February. But still, the winter doldrums have come for me and I find myself daydreaming of faraway beaches, the tight-skinned feeling of sunburn, and sweat soaked hair.

All of this is to say that lately, I am remembering one of the hottest days I’ve ever felt and the short story that was part of it. I was in New Haven, maybe it was July, and a friend and I had a made a monthly habit of going to Listen Here, short story readings by local actors at the Institute Library. The Institute Library is an 1878 four-story, brick and wood-frame building. It gets narrow among the bookshelves and has the familiar musty smell you’d expect from a place as old and as packed with books as this was. But for all the character it had, it did not have great airflow. Moving to sit on my fold-out chair, I felt my excitement rise and get caught in the thick humidity before settling back down over my skin. I was sweaty now with the fear that I would pass out next to a biography of Bill Clinton.

Under these circumstances, I heard “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury, an extreme example of how weather can affect behavior.


“Ready?” “Ready.” “Now?” “Soon.” Bradbury lays out a sense of excitement and expectation for us immediately with the disembodied voices of nine-year-old schoolchildren’s questions before launching into the poetic backstory that will catch us up to the present moment:

It had been raining for seven years; thousands upon thousands of days compounded and filled from one end to the other with rain… And this was the way life was forever on the planet Venus, and this was the schoolroom of the children of the rocket men and women who had come to a raining world to set up civilization and live out their lives.

Then we meet Margot, “a very frail girl who looked as if she had been lost in the rain for years and the rain had washed out the blue from her eyes and the red from her mouth and the yellow from her hair.” A girl who hasn’t been on Venus her entire life like the rest of the children. A girl who has seen the Sun. This breeds a jealousy among the class and Margot quickly becomes the outsider. It is unclear how they know to long for the Sun. Their parents? Teachers? Biology? In a surge of vindictive mob mentality, they lock her in a closet right before the Sun is set to emerge. Deprived of the sun, the children become depraved. “They stood looking at the door and saw it tremble from her beating and throwing herself against it. They heard her muffled cries.”

We have so little character development or backstory aside from Margot, that this moment comes both quickly and agonizingly. Hardly any of her classmates even have names, and the teacher is largely absent. In contrast, Bradbury delves deeply into the florid descriptions of the physical and aural world. We do not forget about Margot, but experience a deep sense of injustice all the more because we see the richness of what she is missing.

It was as if, in the midst of a film concerning an avalanche, a tornado, a hurricane, a volcanic eruption, something had, first, gone wrong with the sound apparatus, thus muffling and finally cutting off all noise, all of the blasts and repercussions and thunders, and then, second, ripped the film from the projector and inserted in its place a beautiful tropical slide which did not move or tremor… The silence was so immense and unbelievable that you felt your ears had been stuffed… The door slid back and the smell of the silent, waiting world came into them. The Sun came out.

Two hours later, inevitably, it begins to rain, accompanied by howls of grief from the children. It will be seven more years before the Sun reemerges.

If the Sun symbolizes growth and life then it’s absence is a stagnation and death. Venus is a dead place with a savage social code. With the Sun temporarily restoring the physical world, it seems there’s a somewhat redemptive effect on the children’s morality. They look down on themselves with a sense of shame that hadn’t occurred to them earlier and head back to the closet.

Behind the closet door was only silence. They unlocked the door, even more slowly, and let Margot out.

The silence which once meant sunshine, now Bradbury leaves us with to contemplate what happens next.



Read “All Summer in a Day”

Listen to “All Summer in a Day”

I recently wrote a review of a Sawyer water filter which you can read here and I’m going to be in an awesome documentary called THRU which you can check out the trailer for here.

Listening to Fear: “IT” by Stephen King



By Stephen King

Pp. 1,138

Viking Press 1986


It’s a dark and rainy evening in Portland. The kind that makes me think of gurgling storm drains, especially after finishing listening to the audiobook, IT by Stephen King.

After watching the movie trailer for the newest iteration of IT, I got the audiobook. Sure, I want to see the movie, but I can’t help but feel like I’m experiencing a visual sensory overload lately. (I love Pilobolus’ reaction to this by the way!) Scary stories are meant to be told at night, over dying coals, and in hushed voices. I wanted to tap into this very old auditory dimension of fear and let my imagination roam.

I think this would have been tough for me to read through anyway, especially quickly. A book this big says COMMITMENT. A commitment to carrying around the extra weight (yes, I think like a backpacker), to reading every day if you ever want to finish it and not lose momentum, and a commitment to not skip ahead. Audio tracks will probably never feel daunting in the way that a giant book sometimes can. I could zone out while washing a dirty dishes or folding clothes, but there is some leniency in listening.

I listened to IT for about a month, feeling comforted by being back in fictional but familiar New England town and for the channel it offered for the excess fear and loneliness that haunts the corners of my life at the moment. I didn’t get scared in the way I expected to, probably because I was expecting to. Funny how fear works like that sometimes. I was, however, surprised that I liked King’s writing so much. He flip-flopped seamlessly through the 1960s and 1980s and drew compelling parallels between adulthood and childhood for each of the characters that stretched beyond mere cause and effect or functional plot device. Most of the chapters felt like they were written as short stories which added to the novel’s slower than expected pacing and impressive depth. While I occasionally lost track of which kid in the Loser’s Club was speaking, I knew every character’s first and last name and their family histories. My interest was intense and sustained. I anxiously wondered how the past would inform the rapidly approaching present, and how the lives of the parents had shaped the lives of the children. 

I think when I decided to read a Stephen King book, I just expected the thrill of being scared and the relief that comes with being able to pause a track late at night.

*Spoiler Alert*

This book isn’t about kids and a clown. It’s about growing up, which feels especially poignant as I embark on this new stage of adulthood. Here’s one passage that stood out to me and that I wanted to share:

The energy you drew on so extravagantly when you were a kid, the energy you thought would never exhaust itself – that slipped away somewhere between eighteen and twenty-four, to be replaced by something much duller, something as bogus as coke high: purpose, maybe, or goals, or whatever rah-rah Junior Chamber of Commerce word you wanted to use. It was no big deal; it didn’t go all at once with a bang. And maybe, Richie thought, that’s the scary part. How you don’t stop being a kid all at once, with a big explosive bang, like one of that clown’s trick balloons with the Burma-Shave slogans on the sides. The kid in you just leaked out, like the air out of a tire. And one day you looked in the mirror and there was a grown up looking back at you. You could go on wearing blue jeans, you could keep going to Springsteen and Seger concerts, you could dye your hair, but that was a grown up’s face in the mirror just the same. It all happened while you were asleep, maybe, like a visit from a Tooth Fairy.

I am approaching twenty-six, which does not feel old, but it is the oldest I have ever been. When I look in the mirror, I see a kid who adored playing in the sun and laughs to the point of crying over the silliest things. But I also see a critical and curmudgeonly hey-you-kids-get-off-my-lawn type of old person.

I am tired when I come home from work but proud I pay my bills alone. I miss hiking every day but am grateful to have health insurance. While I don’t know what a coke high feels like, I remember the genuine giddiness I consistently experienced at sweet sixteens and how I feel now after a night of apizza and beers with friends. These two feelings are not the same, but I had to make the tradeoff every now and then to become not only myself but a self-sustaining adult. Being able to identify with Richie Tozier in this moment was not the scariest moment of the book for me- that would be any scene involving Patrick Hockstetter!!!- but it did give me pause. How is the kid in me surviving during this transition to Portland? How is the adult in me thriving?  

Like the end of IT, I don’t have the most concise or clear answers to these questions. Only an understanding that if you want to remember who you are, it helps to have it written it down somewhere.


If you haven’t checked it out yet, I also posted a gear review of the newest Sawyer filters to The Trek!