Trying to capture the Venus Transit last night: you can't see it, but this is right as Venus began to pass across the sun.
A few hours later, I realized that someone had done it, sort of. All Summer in a Day explores a colony on Venus, waiting seven earth years for one day of sunshine. It was written, of course, by the incomparable Ray Bradbury.
I woke up this morning to the sound of soft rain, and I was still thinking about the story when the sun broke through the clouds and the rain stilled.
And then I learned that Mr. Bradbury passed away last night.
I had the strange triple relationship with his work as a reader, a teacher, and finally, a writer. I remember reading Dandelion Wine in high school: I found it beautiful and confusing, because at seventeen, I didn't understand the power of nostalgia. Later, I picked up Fahrenheit 451, and I became impassioned. My favorite of his fictional titles, however, remains The Halloween Tree. Haunting phrases like "sweet candy corn soul" still float through my mind.
I also taught All Summer in a Day to three different years of students during my career, and they always, always, responded with passion. Even the bullies among them were incensed at the behavior of the children in the story.
Finally, I experienced Mr. Bradbury as a writer. I devoured his Zen in the Art of Writing as I was transitioning from full-time teacher to full-time writer, and his words fed my soul.
His work taught me to believe passionately in whatever I decided to believe. He showed me the poetry that can bloom in prose, and he reminded me that craft isn't about the money: it's about doing what you love to keep your soul alive.
Rest in peace, Mr. Bradbury. You may not be buried on Mars, but you left with Venus.