Quote of the Fortnight: Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles”

To celebrate the official arrival of spring, here’s an excerpt from Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles,” a passage called “Rocket Summer.” In the passage, the cold of winter is transformed, briefly, into summer, due to the launch of a rocket.

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January 1999: Rocket Summer

One minute it was Ohio winter, with doors closed, windows locked, the panes blind with frost, icicles fringing every roof, children skiing on slopes, housewives lumbering like great black bears in their furs along the icy streets.

And then a long wave of warmth crossed the small town. A flooding sea of hot air; it seemed as if someone had left a bakery door open. The heat pulsed among the cottages and bushes and children. The icicles dropped, shattering, to melt. The doors flew open. The windows flew up. The children worked off their wool clothes. The housewives shed their bear disguises. The snow dissolved and showed last summer’s ancient green lawns.

Rocket summer. The words passed among the people in the open, airing houses. Rocket summer. The warm desert air changing the frost patterns on the windows, erasing the art work. The skis and sleds suddenly useless. The snow, falling from the cold sky upon the town, turned to a hot rain before it touched the ground.

Rocket summer. People leaned from their dripping porches and watched the reddening sky.

The rocket lay on the launching field, blowing out pink clouds of fire and oven heat. The rocket stood in the cold wintar morning, making summer with every breath of its mighty exhausts. The rocket made climates, and summer lay for a brief moment upon the land….

 

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