July 19, 2007 -- La Cañada Valley Sun

"Around Town:"Re-reading Harry Potter"

By Anita Susan Brenner

For several years, I refused to read the "Harry Potter" books. After Sept. 11, 2001, without fully understanding why, I sought them out. There was something comforting about a magical world, hidden from our own. A world where good and evil battle, but the good guys win. A world where valor is valued.

So, in the days after Sept. 11, I began my retreat to "Harry Potter." Some days, I watched the news. On others, I read the books. And I began to remember the hot July nights of my childhood — root beer floats, midnight stars and dozing on the lawn, looking for bugs and ants.

A safer world.

That's how I felt last Sunday night when we attended the re-opening of the Pasadena City Hall. To sit on a lawn chair under the stars, to hear the Pasadena Pops perform "God Bless America" and "Home on the Range," to see small children dozing on their blankets — it invoked the happiest memories of my childhood.

Just before the finale, "Beethoven's Ninth," we were reminded that the world is not like a fairy tale. One of our group got a phone call. A soldier had died. In battle.

With that phone call, the world changed back.

Today, as I count the days for our own loved one's return from the war, I find myself re-reading "Harry Potter." The new book will come out on Saturday. I have ordered a copy for her, for her return.

I sit on the sofa next to her dog, a few feet from her photo, with Book One.

The dog's name is Dune B. Ortiz. He is a deployment dog and he has a blog.

Our own dog is named Miss Audrey Hepburn. She has her own stationery.

I have been reading "Harry Potter," book one, for several days. Today, I have arrived at the final chapter. In this scene, Harry's adventures are over and he recuperates from his injuries in the infirmary of his school — the Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft.

Harry receives a visit from Aldus Dumbledore, the headmaster. It's like a hospital visit from a really cool Marine Corps general.

Despite the gravitas of his role, Dumbledore makes a point of talking to Harry about the jelly beans.

Dumbeldore tells Harry, "Ah! Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans! I was unfortunate enough in my youth to come across a vomit-flavoured one, and since then I'm afraid I've rather lost my liking for them — but I think I'll be safe with a nice toffee, don't you?"

I really like that part. Here's Dumbledore, a sage and a wizard. He knows that these beans are going to taste awful, but he wants to connect with Harry.

Dumbledore picks up the candy. He smiles and pops the golden-brown bean into his mouth. Then he chokes and says, "Alas! Ear wax!"

Sometimes the sages have the answers. Sometimes, they don't.

Even in "Harry Potter."

Anita Susan Brenner is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident. She is an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner.