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It always amazes me how your mind works. What memories are stored away in there, inconsequential as they might seem, if you even remember them, until some trigger goes off.
I was reading Happy News tonight that there is a new book called “Return to the Hundred Acre Wood” which is written by author David Benedictus and picks up where A.A. Milne’s original series published in 1928 left off.
There is something oddly comforting in reading Milne’s Pooh books, perhaps it is the magic of childhood and the pleasure of imagination unleashed or maybe it is the reconnection with a past that was much simpler than our lives are in these “grown up” times. I read an excerpt of the book from MSN’s Today website and I was pleased to see that Mr. Benedictus is able to capture the spirit of the characters that reside with such simplicity in the Hundred Acre Wood.
Here is an excerpt:
Who started it? Nobody knew. One moment there was the usual Forest babble: the wind in the trees, the crow of a cock, the cheerful water in the streams. Then came the Rumour: Christopher Robin is back!
Owl said he heard it from Rabbit, and Rabbit said he heard it from Piglet, and Piglet said he just sort of heard it, and Kanga said why not ask Winnie-the-Pooh? And since that seemed like a Very Encouraging Idea on such a sunny morning, off Piglet trotted, arriving in time to find Pooh anxiously counting his pots of honey.
“Isn’t it odd?” said Pooh.
“Isn’t what odd?”
Pooh rubbed his nose with his paw. “I wish they would sit still. They shuffle around when they think I’m not looking. A moment ago there were eleven and now there are only ten. It is odd, isn’t it, Piglet?”
“It’s even,” said Piglet, “if it’s ten, that is. And if it isn’t, it isn’t.” Hearing himself saying this, Piglet thought that it didn’t sound quite right, but Pooh was still counting, moving the pots from one corner of the table to the other and back again.
“Bother,” said Pooh. “Christopher Robin would know if he was here. He was good at counting. He always made things come out the same way twice and that’s what good counting is.”
“But Pooh…” Piglet began, the tip of his nose growing pink with excitement.
“On the other hand it’s not easy to count things when they won’t stay still. Like snowflakes and stars.”
“But Pooh…” And if Piglet’s nose was pink before, it was scarlet now.
“I’ve made up a hum about it. Would you like to hear it, Piglet?”
Piglet was about to say that hums were splendid things, and Pooh’s hums were the best there were, but Rumours come first; then he thought what a nice feeling it was to have a Big Piece of News and to be about to Pass It On; then he remembered the hum which Pooh had made up about him, Piglet, and how it had had seven verses, which was more verses than a hum had ever had since time began, and that they were all about him, and so he said: “Ooh, yes, Pooh, please,” and Pooh glowed a little because a hum is all very well as far as it goes, and very well indeed when it goes for seven verses, but it isn’t a Real Hum until it’s been tried out on somebody, and while honey is always welcome, it’s welcomest of all directly after a hum.
This is the hum which Pooh hummed to Piglet on the day which started like any other day and became a very special day indeed.
If you want to count your honey,
You must put it in a row,
In the sun if it is sunny,
If it’s snowy in the snow.
And you’ll know when you have counted
How much honey you have got.
Yes, you’ll know what the amount is
And so therefore what it’s not.
“And I think it’s eleven,” added Pooh, “which is an excellent number of pots for a Thursday, though twelve would be even better.”
“Pooh,” said Piglet quickly, in case there was a third verse on the way which would be nice, but time-consuming, “I have a Very Important Question to ask you.”
“The answer is Yes,” said Pooh. “It is time for a little something.”
“But, Pooh,” said Piglet, the tip of his nose by now quite crimson with anxiety and frustration, “the question is not about little somethings but big somethings. It’s about Christopher Robin.”
Pooh, who had just put his paw into the tenth pot of honey, left it there, just to be on the safe side, and asked: “What about Christopher Robin?”
“The Rumour, Pooh. Do you suppose he has come back?
Eeyore, the grey donkey, was standing at the edge of the Hundred Acre Wood, staring at a patch of thistles. He had been saving them for a Rainy Day and was beginning to wonder whether it would ever rain again and whether, by the time it did, there would be any juice left in them, when Pooh and Piglet came by.
“Hallo, little Piglet,” said Eeyore. “Hallo, Pooh. And what are you doing around here?”
“We came to see you, Eeyore,” said Pooh.
“A quiet day, was it, Pooh? An if-we-haven’t-anything-better-to-do sort of day? How very thoughtful.”
Piglet wondered how it was that every conversation with Eeyore seemed to go wrong.
“Time hanging heavy, was it, Piglet? And, Pooh, I would thank you not to stand on those thistles.”
“Which ones would you like me to stand on?” asked Pooh.
“But, Eeyore,” squeaked Piglet, “it’s C–C–C–”
“Have you swallowed something, little Piglet? Not a thistle, I trust?”
“It’s Christopher Robin,” said Pooh. “He’s coming back.”
While Pooh was talking, Eeyore went rather still. Only his tail moved, brushing away an imaginary fly.
“Well,” he said, rather huskily, then paused. “Well. Christopher Robin … That is to say … heretofore …” he blinked quickly several times. “Christopher Robin coming back. Well.”
Finally, the Rumour was confirmed. Owl had flown to Rabbit’s house, and Rabbit had spoken to his Friends and Relations, who had spoken to Smallest-of-All, who thought he had seen Christopher Robin but couldn’t be absolutely certain because sometimes he remembered things which turned out not to have happened yet, or ever, or at all. And they asked Tigger what he thought, only he was hopping across Kanga’s carpet avoiding the yellow bits, which could be dangerous, and paid no attention. But Kanga had told Rabbit that it was true, and when Kanga said something was true, then that thing was true. And so, if Pooh and Piglet thought that it was true, and Owl believed that it was true, and Kanga said that it was true, then it really must be true. Mustn’t it?
Remembering Pooh from my own childhood, lead me to look up A.A. Milne and his poetry. I came across the cover of the book at the top of this post “When We Were Very Young” and it looked strangely familiar. Recesses of my mind pulled up why it was so familiar – that book along with Milne’s other book “Now We Are Six” both sat on a bookshelf at my grandparents’ home. A bookshelf that I, the child that loved to read, would often scour while I was there. These two books and their poems were read over many times, with their simple illustrations and simple verse. As I type this I can remember turning the pages that, even then, some 35 or so years ago, were already very fragile and needed to be treated delicately. My grandparents have long passed from this world and while fond memories are also locked away deep inside, it was both very cool and very bittersweet to stumble upon this image, which conjured up so many good memories and images of my own childhood.
Here is a picture of the bread I pulled from my oven. It looks pretty amazing if I do say so myself. We’ll see how it tastes when we slice it open later with some homemade chicken soup for dinner. This bread comes from my own sourdough starter which has been around for about 9 or so years. I’ll post the recipe for that for anyone that cares to learn, it is natural yeast starter and really easy to make. I can also post the recipe for the bread.
We woke up this morning in the dark, as normal. When it became light enough to peer outside the windows and actually see anything, you could tell that it had snowed. It is raining now, but when dawn came creeping in you could see that a thin blanket of white covered the cars, the lawn, the bushes and the other surfaces. The first snow always looks weird when it is just a dusting, like this was, with leaves and twigs and signs of autumn still fighting to break through. Winter felt the need to stretch, waking up from its summer slumber and let us know that she’s out there and she’ll be visiting soon.
This morning’s snow was just a preview or a warning – depending on your point of view. It was definitely an elevation event as predicted, since the bottom of our hill showed barely a trace and I am sure that down in town, the world didn’t even know that snow had snuck in while we slept.