Roving on Planets

Standing outside by the curbside of our home one night, my eyes were drawn to the beautifully illumined Sirius shining bright in the night sky. Sirius has been looking brighter than usual in the winter skies, and I have often stared at the blinking star wondering what was happening that far away in the Universe.  Every dot in the night sky suggesting a universe of possibilities. The space between dots showing the emptiness, the dots themselves, bright and important only because of the surrounding darkness

Almost subconsciously, my eyes moved over to the red spot Mars. For here, in our own solar neighborhood, we know that something is happening. Something of human interest, and intent. To think that on that distant reddish spot in the sky, 3 generations of rovers have spent the time taking photographs and trying to determine the existence of life on the planet, is surreal. Not to mention the fact that they have been able to transmit the pictures back to Earth for analysis. 

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The planet has long beckoned us with its allure. All those Science Fiction writers, who used the planet as the home for their fertile imagination, paved the way for these missions. 

Fiction on Mars isn’t new. In fact, the red planet invited writers as early as mid-1800’s to set their stories there. Long before knowing anything about the sounds on Mars, the temperatures, or the atmospheres; worlds were set in it. War of the Worlds had the strangest creatures that human imagination could think of (cephalopod like creatures), who could overpower humans. (This quest for dominance vs courteous co-existence is a pet peeve – why must we turn everything into a conquest? But then, do ants wonder the same about us?) 

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Throughout the week, the little cosmologist in the house interspersed our Earthly life with Mars-ly anecdotes and clips. 

Do you know? If we want to live on Mars, we have to have high metal barrier suits. If you go out on an adventure without a suit, there is so much radiation that it could kill you. “ (He had read a novel set in Mars)

Wonder what happened to all water on Mars. The video said there really was water there.” (He has been watching the NASA  videos with interest)

One evening, we sat together huddled up, watching pictures stitched together from the 3 Mars rovers: Opportunity, Curiosity, Perseverance. Barren desert landscapes, not unlike those in the Sahara desert or the Arizonian deserts, are all the rovers could see. In some shots, the commentator says the NASA team stitched thousands of individual images together to gain a clearer view. In some pictures, a blue sky is visible  (the commentator says that NASA colored the skies blue, so as to be able to see the images better, and I thought about how pretty blue skies are and how blue is a very rare color in nature. )

Curiosity and Perseverance will help us find answers. Till then, we have the opportunity to ponder and puzzle about these things. More than any of these curious wanderings, the one thing that the Martian landscape reinforces to me, is that our Earth is a beautiful planet – so vast in its diversity, and lifeforms. The Martian pictures make me want to go out and sigh and fall in love, look after, and cherish the one planet we can thrive on. To admire the miracle that is every tree, every lake, every cloud, every blade of grass, and every flower. 

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Not to mention the great miracle of life in the form of marine creatures, land based creatures and those that are able to aerially survey our beautiful planet. 

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If Martian 4K resolution images have taught me anything, it is to buckle down and look after the one planet we do have. If I am to be roving on planets, why not this beautiful one that has so much to offer?

“I walk in the world to love it.” – Mary Oliver

Mars Marvels

There is something special in being able to watch the Mars Perseverance Rover land on Mars during the day with your fellow explorer. 

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A work day was in bustling progress.  Many meetings, many projects, many interruptions, and many more deadlines were jostling about in the ether, when the son came charging into the room. It was the middle of his school day (one of the many high points of the corona lifestyle), “Amma! Amma! You will like this. I just came to tell you this! The Mars landing just happened!”

I plucked myself away from the myriad day-to-day happenings of my world, and looked up at his excited face. Luckily, it was one of those rare ½ hour slots that was meeting-free. “Do you want to see the landing? “ I asked, and he nodded. There is something special in being able to watch the Mars Perseverance Rover land on Mars during the day with your fellow explorer. 

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The video attests to Carl Sagan’s deductions in the book, Pale Blue Dot (essay: Sacred Black). The Martian atmosphere does look pinkish red with heavily desert hues. The son & I looked outside at the beautiful blue sky with reassuringly white clouds flitting by. 

The Mars Perseverance Rover is tasked with looking for evidence for extraterrestrial life.

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

The Perseverance rover has four science objectives that support the Mars Exploration Program‘s science goals:[8]

  1. Looking for habitability: identify past environments capable of supporting microbial life.
  2. Seeking biosignatures: seek signs of possible past microbial life in those habitable environments, particularly in specific rock types known to preserve signs over time.
  3. Caching samples: collect core rock and regolith (“soil”) samples and store them on the Martian surface.
  4. Preparing for humans: test oxygen production from the Martian atmosphere.

Mars has, it seems, been a most fertile planet for the imagination through the centuries. From harboring questions about life on its surface to envisioning warfare between worlds. As rich as lifeforms on Earth are, even in our imaginings, we are somewhat limited by how life has evolved on Earth. Cephalopods, trees, giraffes, humans – but what else is possible? What sensory powers are we not even considering?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_in_fiction

The War of the Worlds (1898) by H. G. Wells. Features an attack on England by cephalopod-like Martians and their advanced technology to employ fighting machines to decimate the world.

Even as early as the 16th and 17th century, writers made bold attempts at imagining life on its surface. The canal like squiggles on its surface, led to intriguing theories on an advanced civilization running advanced colonies etc. 

Now, seems like a good time for me to read The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. Given what we know about the Martian atmosphere now, there are places where the writing seems awkward. For instance, Ray Bradbury writes of a blue Martian sky – an example that it is hard for us to un-imagine what is. 

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The Martian Chronicles (1950) by Ray Bradbury. Features human-like Martians with copper-colored skin, human emotions, and telepathic abilities. They have an advanced culture, but the human explorers are greeted with incomprehension. 

Science took us to Mars with the reddish sky, but it was the blue sky with white clouds that enabled us to dream. The hunter gatherer is us out to explore the cosmic ocean, as Carl Sagan would say.

Bee Blossoms

Out on a evening walk one day, my heart rose. The corona virus may be taking the world for a spin of its own. Days seem to be blending into weeks, and weeks into months. There are times, I sit up and notice the weekend is here. Some other times, I sit up and wonder where the week-end went. All of life seems to be one long news cycles of confusion & anxiety. What is a good time to reopen, should we reopen?

Human-beings may be in a state of confusion and anxiety.  But Nature around us has no such doubts. She brought on Spring just in time. The leaves sprouted in one marvelous unified stage opening. I stood mesmerized under the fresh, new leaves, sometimes glinting with dewdrops, and other times, filtering the rays of the sun beautifully around. Early tulips bloomed, spring snowflakes made their hearty show.

Then slowly, and just as surely, the temperatures rose, and the hills near where we live browned in the suns. But that meant, it was time for the summer flowers to take the stage. The jacaranda trees took their cues from the receding spring snowflakes, and assured them that the show must go on. On the evening walk, I noticed the beautiful purple flowers blooming against the green leaves, the early oleander flowers are revealing their pinks and whites, and roses everywhere are out on their annual romps warming hearts and lifting spirits with greater sincerity this year.

The son and I stood watching bees buzz from one flower to another taking with them the memories of a thousand blossoms with them, slowly but surely nurturing the circle of life. I was reminded of Ray Bradbury’s saying:

“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”
― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

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When I watch the dew drops glisten on the spring snowflakes,
When I watch the rainbow makes up its mind and throw itself like a garland across the skies
When I watch the eight-legged marvels creations catch in the sunset
When I watch the waves lap and play with the sandpipers

I feel hope stir in the spirits
I feel decisive and conviction in Being
I feel solitude’s gift can be tangible and needs to be nurtured for its fragile state
I feel engaged with the planet and all its gifts

There is beauty in knowledge of the changing seasons, and wonder in anticipation.

Mother Earth is preparing for the Summer!

The Chance To Catch A Deep Breath

What Do You Do With A Chance? Written by Kobi Yamada and Illustrated by Mae Besom, is a insightful read on a young boy who sees a chance, and decides not to take it. The chance flutters by him, and he misses it. 

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What Do You Do With A Chance – By Kobi Yamada, Illustrated by Mae Besom

The next time, he decides that he will not let a chance pass by him again, and he reaches for it as it flutters tantalizingly by him, but this time, he falls flat on his face, and is laughed at by the other children.

So, he refuses to entertain chances again. They flutter by him multiple times, but he turns his back on them. Slowly, they stop fluttering by.  Time goes on, and he starts to yearn for a chance, This time, he thinks, come what may, he will grab on and go wherever the chance takes him. 

The chance does arrive eventually, and it is a huge one. A bright shining illuminance that lights up everything nearby, and he jumps on, and soars watching the monochrome world around him explode in technicolor.  

Like all good children’s books, this one made me wonder too. 

How often have we missed chances? It is one thing for a book to beautifully illustrate a chance, but quite often the chances we miss are not always that beautifully illuminated in the landscape of our life, except perhaps in hindsight.  Sometimes chances come in the guise of problems, and they transform into opportunities. Sometimes chances are so common-place you barely recognize them at all. Sometimes, a chance comes in the form of slowing down, catching a deep breath and taking a glimpse of the world around us.

Take for instance the time I was running around a lake, watching the sunset throw its myriad patterns on the lake waters. It was beautiful and fleeting. My pounding heart was pouting at this sudden enthusiasm for fitness. I myself was quite miserable. Running can be quite the mental exercise: the mind jabbers on:

Why does it have to be so hard? Really, after all this time, has it only been a mile? So slow, I could have beat myself if I had been 5!

Then, I looked at the shining lake waters and chided my brain for being such a wet sod, took a deep gulp and pushed on. But after a few miles, I stopped by my favorite pepper willow trees. I had been running around the same spot, and yet, I had not noticed so many things. It was as though my senses suddenly woke up when I stood still. I could feel the evening breezes lift off the stray tendrils of my hair, the sun’s rays seemed magical: sunset orange is a lovely color, and the way it transformed the clouds in the sky was beautiful. Breath-taking as it was, its true beauty lay in its very essence of being ephemeral. 

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Dandelion Wine: A Sunset is only beautiful because it doesn’t last forever. – Ray Bradbury in his book, Dandelion Wine, when discussing the Happiness Machine.

I watched the pelicans go about their evening business of co-ordinated fishing, small groups of geese were making their way back to the lake, landing together smoothly with the most melodious sounding splashes, and a fluidity of movement that would have made any pilot look on with awe.

We are lucky indeed to be able to stop and enjoy nature. As humanity huddles more and more closely in densely populated urban areas, we seem to have squeezed out these natural pleasures. For decades now, people have flocked to cities in search of livelihood. What option is there otherwise? Cities get larger, people cluster closer together physically and yet farther apart emotionally. How many city dwellers know all their neighbors?

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I looked at the pelicans and geese spotting the lake as they settled down to roost for the day. There was companionship there. The pelicans were steadily drifting towards me – together, gracefully, and I could not resist going to a vantage point by the willow tree. I have always loved how these trees look like princesses, letting their tresses down in the stream – looking joyful, and serene to let the flowing water tickle the hair-tips, even as the breeze caresses their locks. 

Nature, the soother, had worked her magic again, and my heart bloomed and expanded with joy. Sometimes a chance flutters by and you need to stop and take a breath to catch it.

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Sunset In The Queen’s Garden

In what was an impressive track record for last minute booking, the husband booked a trip, that flew us into Las Vegas and from there onto the beautiful sights in Utah. In one week, we had been in 4 states: California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

Sitting in the car that bright morning as we drove past Zion national park into Bryce Canyon national park, I felt the familiar stirrings of wonder. Nature often has this effect on me. The magnificence, brilliance and grandeur of nature never fails to instill awe. Always partial to trees, rivers and mountains when it comes to scenery, I could not help thinking how nature had once again jostled me out of my familiar likes and dislikes and opened my mind to appreciate beauty so different and so breath taking.

As Johannes Kepler says in his book, Mysterium Cosmographicum

The diversity of the phenomena of Nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the heavens so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment. 

Buddha in Lotus?
Buddha in Lotus?

We had driven past Zion national park early enough in the morning to go on to Bryce Canyon National Park. We received the first glimpse of hoodoos in Dixie national forest. Set against the bright blue sky, they looked like statues from another world sent here to evoke an art that stuns and astonishes. We were listening to a Harry Potter audio book: a series that nudges even the most reluctant thinker into imagination, so it was no wonder that my mind buzzed with actors from another world setting the stage for the impressive hoodoo theatre.

“What should we do at Bryce?” asked the husband

“Well… the Queen’s Garden trail comes highly recommended, so that and a few other trails ought to do it.” I said vaguely, and continued musing.

Would the Queen’s Garden be as poetic as its name?  Would there be any hoodoos?  Little was I to know that Bryce Canyon hosted an entire amphitheater of them, and that we would be able to walk amidst them.

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One of the things I like best about road trips through the National Parks in the USA are the poetic names every point is given. Take for instance the Queen’s Garden. Instead of saying Rock Point or Hoodoo Lookout, the trail was given a mystifying  and satisfying name: Fairy Loop through the Queen’s Garden in the Amphitheater. Who wouldn’t want to do that? Apparently, one of the hoodoos resembled Queen Victoria in the setting sunlight’s shadow.

Could there really be a weird coincidence of having one’s silhouette set in stone that gives us a clue as to which human beings live on in name and fame? Or do we only assume likenesses to those already living on in name and fame?  Hoodoo musings are quixotic.

The day at Bryce Canyon was beautiful and as other-worldly as it is possible to get in so short a span of time.

Meandering through the park, we found ourselves washing up near the Queen’s Garden trail towards day’s end. The trail itself looped from Sunrise Point dipped via the Queen’s Garden and came back up near Sunset Point. If the point had not been named Sunset Point, would we have stopped to take in the grandeur of the sunset over the Amphitheater like setting of the valley? I am not sure. I do not think the sunset is any more spectacular here than at any other point in the Canyon, but simply by naming a point Sunset Point, we were encouraged to wait for the hues of the setting sun to unleash its marvelous palette of colors across the skies, thus bathing the amphitheater before us in surreal colors.

The setting sun took its time. It first peeked behind a hoodoo and then cast its fading light slowly upon the horizon.

As we stood there bundled up bracing for the sudden dip in Winter temperature after the sun sets, I could not help thinking of Ray Bradbury’s thought on the Happiness Machine in the book, Dandelion Wine: A Sunset is only beautiful because it doesn’t last forever.

While it lasted though, it was magical.

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“Doesn’t it make you feel poetic?”, I said gazing mesmerized at the hoodoos in the amphitheater before us.  “This Queen’s Garden hike reminds me of Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole. This is a Wonderland. The gargantuan arches of orange and pink beauty beckon!”, I said theatrically, flourishing my hands wide and raising my face heaven-wards. It is imperative at moments of impetuousness such as this to ignore teenagers inserting the practical note into life.

“It is just erosion.”, said the daughter bringing me back to Earth in a thud, but I saw her smiling happily and taking in the horizon.

Without art, science would be as useless as a pair of high forceps in the hands of a plumber. Without science, art would become a crude mess of folklore and emotional quackery. The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps art from becoming ridiculous. -Raymond Thornton Chandler 

http://www.zionnational-park.com/bryce-canyon-trails.htm Quote below:

The Queen’s Garden Trail leads hikers past wonderful rock formations, including Gulliver’s Castle, the Queen’s Castle and many that are unnamed. Man-made bridges are scattered throughout the trail. At the end is Queen Elizabeth’s garden and the Queen herself, standing on a backward facing camel, calling out orders to the ships in the garden. The queen can also be seen from Sunrise Point.

Standing there under the rays of the setting sun, waiting to unleash another cold night, before rising again, the daughter and I imagined the place as it would have been millions of years ago, with underwater life teeming in its depths, crafting the very hoodoos for us to delight in today.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” — Lao Tzu

If only, we let Nature go on its course without hurrying to leave our indelible imprint on the canvas, I am sure something even more remarkable can be handed down to generations after us.

Ma With Fahrenheit 451

As I took a walk one morning, I tried to identify the flowers and trees in the neighborhood, and found myself humbled by my meagre botanical knowledge. A bird or two chirped nearby, and I tried my best to enjoy the quiet by zoning out the drone of the constant hum of traffic from the main road. I looked up at a tree that I loved, a Gingko tree, and sat myself down nearby watching the suns life giving rays upon a garden just watered. The tiny water droplets refracted the suns rays, and the world around me felt magical.

As if to complete this picture of serenity, two butterflies danced into view. Their dance around the flowers on that sunlit morning with the rays of the sun coming in through the Gingko trees leaves was enough to mesmerize anyone, and I found myself smiling and lapsing into a contented silence. It is not often that I get to slow life down enough to sit and watch butterflies in the garden. In those few blissful moments, I experienced the beautiful concept of Ma. Ma is the Japanese concept signifying the space between moments, and is a practice in the Zen art of being present in the moment. Ma is the pause between sounds.

Ma is beautifully explained in the children’s book written by Katrina Goldsaito and Illustrated by Julia Kao titled, The Sound of Silence.

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In the book, Little Yoshio looks for the sound of silence after he hears an old koto player on the street tell him that her favorite sound is the sound of ma, of silence. Intrigued, Yoshio looks for the sound of silence in the streets of the city around him, he looks for it in the bamboo garden, but finds other noises are constantly present, and is wondering whether he can ever find Ma.

Then one morning, he enters his school earlier than usual and immerses himself in a book, he experiences it for the first time. “Suddenly in the middle of a page, he heard it. No sounds of footsteps, no people chattering, no radios, no bamboo, no kotos being tuned. In that short moment, Yoshio couldn’t even hear the sound of his own breath. Everything felt still inside him. Peaceful, like the garden after it snowed.

The butterflies cavorted higher and higher and then swooped down with joy to the lavender patch. I let my mind flitter about like the creatures I was watching. Reflecting upon life is increasingly becoming a luxury, I thought to myself. I had just finished reading Fahrenheit 451, and could not help thinking of some of the things in the book that Ray Bradbury had the foresight of seeing 50-60 years ago, long before we were addicted to technology and lured by the concept of busyness. Fahrenheit 451 talks about a future in which all books are burned by firemen. (451 F is the temperature at which book paper burns. )

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People live in homes where the Televisor is on all 4 walls, signifying constant stimulation. One fireman is curious to see what is there in the books that those who love it so much are even willing to die to keep them. He steals a random book here and a book there with every burning, and he tries his best to make sense of it, but is unable to grasp the beauty of random poetry. He tracks down one person whose books he had burned and asks him to explain. Excerpt from the book below:

“Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we may forget. There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched patches of the universe together into one garment for us. 3 things are missing

Number one: Quality, texture of information. They show the pores in the face of life

Number Two: Leisure”

“Oh, but we have plenty of off hours.”

“Off hours yes. But time to think? If you’re not driving a 100 miles an hour, at a clip where you can’t think of anything else but the danger, then you’re playing some game or sitting i some room where you can’t argue with the four wall televisor. Why? The televisor is real. It in immediate, it has dimension. It tells you what to think and blasts it in. It must be right. It seems so right. It rushes you on so quickly to its own conclusions your mind hasn’t time to protest, ‘What nonsense?’

Summing up, he says the books give you three things:

Number one: quality of information.

Number two: leisure to digest it.

And number three: the right to carry out actions based on what we learn from the interaction of the first two.

Complement with Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

From Botany to Ma and Fahrenheit 451, I was flitting about like a butterfly myself, and could not have asked for a more pleasurable show in my head had I planned the thing.

The Happiness Machine

In one story track of the Dandelion Wine, one of the characters, Leo Auffman, sets out to create a Happiness Machine after listening to low-spirited conversations among the old. Grandpa Spaulding, does let us know early in the process not to wait for the thing with bated breath, but we do.

Leo sets out to make his happiness machine imagining all the things that will make us happy. One quiet evening when he asks his wife what she thinks of it, she is stiff in her response, but Leo is too excited to notice that she doesn’t approve of the project. He spends more and more time creating the machine much against the wishes of his wife. He grows increasingly fond of what he is creating and neglects his family, too busy to notice the discordant strings starting to play out among the children. His wife tries to get him to see reason, and tells him that he is better off with his children, and spending time with them, but the excited Leo can barely wait to unveil the beautiful Happiness Machine to the world so there will never be discontent among the populace again.

It is only when he discovers his son weeping uncontrollably after taking a spin in the Happiness Machine that he fumbles. He is confused and cannot see where he went wrong. He pleads with his wife, Lena, and she too tries it out. At first, he hears her laughing, but slowly a deep wracking crying emerges from within the machine. Poor Leo – all he wanted to do was make people happy.

Lena comes out, and tells Leo that at first it was beautiful and she thoroughly enjoyed it. There was Paris, and all the wonderful places to see, right there in her backyard, but slowly a discontent set in. Hitherto, Paris and Greece were wondrous places, but not ones she ever dreamed of going to, and she was happy with her chores and the family. But now, the happiness machine had shown her everything that was possible.

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What’s more, she goes on to say that she truly started crying only when the Happiness Machine took her dancing with Leo again. They hadn’t been to a dance in twenty years. Leo says he could take her dancing that very evening, but she says that is not the point, since all the Happiness Machine did was remind her of those golden times and foolishly wish for it again instead of treasure the memory. The children have to be fed, chores need doing around the house. Who wants a sunset to last forever? The sunset is only beautiful because it does not last forever. The whole time I am thinking I have my real life to get back to. My children to feed, my home to clean, my work that awaits me. Oh Leo, how could you forget that real life can never match up to what a Happiness Machine says my life should be like?

The story finishes with Leo realizing that a Happiness Machine was there with him all along – he was just too absorbed to notice it. One that doesn’t always work, but will do – his family.

A book written in 1957. Brilliant.

Dandelion Wine

I used to eat wild berries. This is the kind of statement that gets folks today squeezy. Were you really okay after eating wild berries? Yes. You sample one and then another if the first felt okay. Leave it at that and then a few days later, if you haven’t spent the preceding few days heaving up your insides, go for it again. Yet, every time I try to eat one, the husband grabs my arm and looks at me accusingly. The daughter twirls her eyes at the rebellious mother and berry eating becomes another adventure that is reflective of my wild youth.

In other news, I read an excellent book, Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury. Dandelion Wine is essentially a book of a boy’s summer in a small sized town. The first time he realizes that he is alive. Alive in a way he can observe the smells of summer, relate to the activities the hot sun brings with it, deduce what relationships mean, deal with the pain of seeing a childhood friend move, and how we need a sense of community. In this short book of related short stories, there emerges a brilliant, simple narrative of a 12 year old boy, Douglas Spaulding.

In one story, Grandpa Spaulding realizes that Bill Forrester, their young gardener, who is training up to be a journalist one day, buys a particular variety of grass that only grows to a certain height and then stops, thereby making a lawn mower redundant. (Luckily, no such grass exists to this day.) It is just a pretty lawn requiring very low maintenance. Grandpa is shocked at Bill for considering buying something that inches out the clovers and dandelions which means there will be no bees or butterflies in the garden. He goes on a tirade saying that this is the problem with the younger generation.

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He tells a stunned Bill that he wants nothing to do with the grass till he dies, for he likes mowing the grass. He likes the joy in small things. The problem with the younger generation, he says, is that they hop from one big thing to another and find methods to get rid of all the small things that fill the day. He tries to explain to him that one day he would go crazy trying to find little things to fill his day.

“Lilacs on a bush are better than orchids. And dandelions and devil grass are better! Why? Because they bend you over and turn you away from all the people and the town for a little while and sweat you and get you down where you remember you got a nose again. And when you’re all to yourself that way, you’re really yourself for a little while; you get to thinking things through, alone. Gardening is the best excuse for being a philosopher. Nobody guesses, nobody accuses, nobody knows, but there you are. Plato in the peonies, Socrates force-growing his own hemlock. A man toting a sack of blood manure across his lawn is akin to Atlas letting the world spin easy on his shoulder. As Samuel Spaulding, Esquire, once said, ‘Dig in the earth, delve in the soul’. Spin those mower blades, Bill, and walk in the spray of the Fountain of Youth. End of lecture. Besides, a mess of dandelion greens is good eating once in a while.”

I haven’t eaten Dandelion stems though – time to try some freshly washed ones from the backyard. I like the way Grandpa Spaulding thinks.

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I just need to remind myself of Grandpa Spaulding’s wise words when I am moaning in the kitchen doing the after dinner cleanup.

Published in 1957, this story’s theme resonates on multiple levels. Today, we find other distractions to fill our day. We graze on Facebook, we try the pulse of Twitter, we farm with the flick of a finger on Farmville. Which brings me to the next lovely topic on The Happiness Machine in Dandelion Wine.