From Dandelion Wine:
“It was a quiet morning, the town covered over with darkness and at ease in bed. Summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the world was long and warm and slow. … Lying in this third-story cupola bedroom, he felt the tall power it gave him, riding high in the June wind … . At night, when the trees washed together, he flashed his gaze like a beacon from this lighthouse in all directions over swarming seas of elm and oak and maple.
A whole summer ahead to cross off the calender, day by day. Like the goddess Siva in the travel books, he saw his hands jump everywhere, pluck sour apples, peaches and midnight plums. He would be clothed in trees and bushes and rivers. He would bake, happily, with ten thousand chickens, in Grandma’s kitchen.
He stood at the open window in the dark, took a deep breath and exhaled. The street lights, like candles on a black cake, went out. He exhaled again and again and the stars began to vanish. … Yellow squares were cut in the dim morning earth, as house lights winked slowly on. A sprinkle of windows came suddenly alight miles off in dawn country.
‘Everybody yawn. Everybody up.’
The great house stirred below.
‘Grandpa, get your teeth from the water glass!’ He waited a decent interval. ‘Grandma and Great-grandma, fry hot cakes!’
The warm scent of fried batter rose in the drafty halls to stir the boarders, the aunts, the uncles, the visiting cousins, in their rooms. The bleak mansions across the town ravine opened baleful dragon eyes. … Clock alarms tinkled faintly. The courthouse clock boomed. Birds leaped from trees like a net thrown by his hand, singing. Douglas, conducting an orchestra, pointed to the eastern sky. The sun began to rise. … He gave the town a last snap of his fingers. Doors slammed open; people stepped out.
Summer 1928 began.”
“So, plucked carefully, in sacks, the dandelions were carried below. The cellar dark glowed with their arrival. The wine press stood open, cold. A rush of flowers warmed it. … The golden tide, the essence of this fine fair month ran, then gushed from the spout below, to be crocked, skimmed of ferment, and bottled in clean ketchup shakers, then ranked in sparkling rows in cellar gloom. Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered. … And there, row upon row, with the soft gleam of flowers opened at morning, with the light of this June sun glowing through a faint skin of dust, would stand the dandelion wine.
… Yes, even Grandma, drawn to the cellar of winter for a June adventure, might stand alone and quietly, in secret conclave with her own soul and spirit … communing with a last touch of a calendar long departed, with the picnics and the warm rains and the smell of fields of wheat and new popcorn and bending hay. Even Grandma, repeating and repeating the fine and gold words, even as they were said now in this moment when the flowers were dropped into the press, as they would be repeated every winter for all the white winters in time. Saying them over and over on the lips, like a smile, like a sudden patch of sunlight in the dark.
Dandelion wine. Dandelion wine. Dandelion wine.”
From the Women’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery:
“Dandelion wine is a time-honored drink and ranks among the better home-made wines. Here is an old recipe for it: Place one gallon dry dandelion flowers in a two gallon crock. Pour one gallon boiling water over flowers. Cover and let stand for three days. Strain through a cloth and squeeze all the liquid from flowers. In a deep kettle combine liquid, three pounds of sugar, and the juice of three oranges and one lemon. Simmer for twenty minutes. Return liquid to crock. Toast a slice of rye bread. Sprinkle top with 1/2 package dry yeast or 1/2 cake compressed yeast. Place bread on top of liquid in crock. Cover with a cloth and keep at room temperature (70-75 degrees F.) for six days. Strain wine into gallon jug. Plug jug loosely with a wad of cotton. Keep in a dark place for three weeks. Decant into a bottle. Cap or cork the bottle tightly. Keep for at least three months before serving.”