Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Winnie-the-Pooh and the Snowy Day

As I write this at not quite 6 a.m., it's snowing outside. When I looked at the forecast last night it was unusually neat and conclusive -- 0º C with a 100 percent chance of snow. It was pretty clear what kind of morning we were going to have around here.

Fortunately the ground is warm enough that the snow isn't sticking much. I went out last night and covered the canna lilies -- which are cut down to the ground anyway -- but the Chinese banana is toughing it out.

I did stay home from work yesterday, due to my cold. I called my co-worker and said I could come in or stay home, either way, depending on what she was comfortable with. She told me to stay home, but it wound up being such a drama -- my boss wanted me to get a substitute, but the sub coordinator said one wasn't available, and I called a guy who used to sub for us but he's no longer on the list, yadda yadda -- that I think I'm going in today. It's a mild cold and I can't really justify missing another day. I doubt I'm still infectious, anyway. I'll wear a mask.

I got some stuff done around the house, so it wasn't an entirely wasted day. I changed our bedsheets and took them to the laundromat, and left Dave's suit and shirts from his Oman trip at the dry cleaners. He had another bag of miscellaneous laundry but I had no more room on our drying rack, so I just left all that at the laundromat too. And I stopped by the grocery store for milk and soup.

I washed Olga's pink blanket, and wrapped it around her when it came out of the dryer. She loves that.

I spent most of the day on the couch reading Christopher Milne's book "The Enchanted Places," about his life as Christopher Robin from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. He talked about life with his parents and how much of the physical world around their farm in Sussex wound up in the Pooh books written by his father, A. A. Milne. It made me want to visit that area for a walk.

Christopher Milne was uncomfortable with his role in the Pooh phenomenon. He was shy and as he grew up he didn't appreciate the expectations that came with his fame. I suppose it must be bizarre to be a grown man who's best known to the world for playing with stuffed animals.

He spent most of his early childhood in the company of his nanny and in those years barely knew his parents, though as he grew he spent more time with them, playing cricket and catch with his father and listening as his mother read to him.

I was shocked by Milne's references to his farm cats. They had about four cats, and of course those cats periodically had kittens, but the kittens were then routinely drowned. He said they probably drowned 50 or 60 kittens over their years there. He recounted this so casually, as if everyone does it, and maybe they did back then. (Dave said his family used to drown farm kittens too, in Michigan.)

Despite the PETA triggers, I enjoyed the book overall, and its evocation of a bygone England in the quieter years of the 1920s. I loved the Pooh books as a kid so when Milne mentioned the Pooh-Sticks Bridge, for example, I knew exactly what he was talking about. In fact, when I read my own childhood journals I see language right out of Winnie-the-Pooh -- exclamations like "Bother!" and references to "hums." I must have been a weird child.


sparklingmerlot said...

Beautiful photos. I hope everything survives but it is just so pretty with a sprinkling of snow.
I think drowning kittens was the norm back then. In some ways kinder than having hundreds of feral cats having to fend for themselves and decimate wildlife - typically it was done just as they were born. Money was tight and I don't think people even thought of speying and neutering working animals. Still makes my toes curl at the thought but times were different then. Every parent and grandparent I know read to their littlies. Is it not common over there anymore? That is sad.

Andrew said...

A brief winter wonderland in your garden. The daff looks rather unhappy.

I too learnt some absurd English expressions from books when I was young but I've no idea what hums are.

My father used to routinely drown kittens. I thought nothing of it. He would shoot dogs and cattle that were suffering. Eventually I must have recoiled from that as now I can't even watch animal cruelty news stories.

Safely I say all of my greats are read to at night in bed before they sleep. I think it is generally the case in Australia.

Moving with Mitchell said...

I envy Olga. I can just imagine the warmth and softness of that blanket. Glad you feel well enough to go to work but it's a shame it was such a drama. At least your situation enables you to keep exposure to others to a minimum. The book sounds interesting.

Steve Reed said...

Caro: You're right -- people do still read aloud to their children. I was thinking more of adults reading aloud to each other in lieu of television, but I guess that's kind of a different situation so I just removed that line from my post. :)

Andrew: "Hums" are the little songs Winnie-the-Pooh sings to himself. It's possibly the only place I've ever seen "hum" as a noun. Yes, I think many parents and grandparents routinely read to their children even now. (See my response above to Caro.)

Mitchell: She DOES look cozy, doesn't she?!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

In South Yorkshire, truancy or playing hooky is known colloquially as "wagging it". As a schoolboy, I wagged it a few times but never as a teacher. I am surprised that you were expected to find your own substitute. That seems very strange.

Bob said...

Love the dusting of snow, and love the idea of curling up on the couch in a freshly washed blanket for the day!

Peter said...

Christopher Milne also wrote an interesting book about his adult life as a bookseller with a special needs daughter. As an adult I read one of AA Milne's adult mysteries and then went on to read Winnie, which I love. I accussed my mother of depriving my childhood by not reading it to me as child. She said I hated it then and would not listen to it.

Jeanie said...

Not a weird child. An inspired one. One who retained. And Pooh -- so wonderful. I need to find a bridge so I can play Pooh Sticks with the boys. (Who am I fooling -- I'd just do it by myself for the fun of it.)

Your yard looks very beautiful. I hope all your early blooms survive it. If it's just snow, probably yes. It's the ice that messes things up. Meanwhile, a productive day is always a plus and yours sounds a heck of a lot more productive than mine! Now, back to it...

Ms. Moon said...

I think we most of us were weird children. Speaking for myself, at least. I created vast worlds out of my imagination. That is very strange about having to find your own substitute- last thing in the world you want to do when you're sick. Good Lord!

Boud said...

I love Olga wrapped in her warm blanket! Yes, you can tell she loves it.

I was sorry for Milne, being used as a whimsical character in his father's book, what an identity to be stuck with. Even as a kid I thought those books were corny!

It sounds as if your sick day was very productive.

ellen abbott said...

I never read any of the Pooh books but I do love warm blankets. When Marc was in the first hospital the nurse brought me a warmed blanket. they cool off fast but those first few minutes are heavenly. A sub for the library? y'all are that busy?

Sharon said...

What could be better than a blanket warm from the dryer wrapped snuggly around one. I understand Olga's love for that completely.
That poor daffodil all bent under the snow. Hopefully it will straighten up by the end of day.

The Bug said...

My dad (who grew up on a farm) routinely threatened to drown kittens or puppies but we never let him. I say that, but I'll bet he did it on the sly. I certainly never counted them.

I stayed home from work yesterday too - some sort of gastro situation that's best left undiscussed. I did work on my laptop - I told my boss I was the most productive I've been in a while. Ha!

Ed said...

Somewhere along the line I watched a movie about A.A. Milne and his lifetime. I can't think of the name though.

Drowning cats was a fairly common thing to do back in the day and is still practiced among the Amish, at least where I live. Mom always had the females spayed, which my father always complained about the bill, but not too vigorously. These sorts of things makes me ponder how we will view pets in the future. Will we consider walking them with ties around their necks, locking them up in cages and feeding them dry manufactured food, things we do today with no qualms, unethical in the future? I think I may have mentioned these thoughts on here before.

Ellen D. said...

I didn't realize that Christopher Robin was Christopher Milne. I don't think I read enough Winnie the Pooh and mostly remember it from animated films.
You got a lot done on your sick day. Hope you are feeling all better real soon!

NewRobin13 said...

I never read any Winnie the Pooh stuff. Now I'm wondering why, after checking that it was first created in 1926. I thought it must have been way more recent than that. Maybe I should read something now to catch up with all I've missed.
I never knew anyone who drowned kittens.

Kelly said...

I didn't read the WTP books until I was maybe 11 or 12. I fell in love with them and still love them. I saw the same film Ed mentioned, I think, and it talked a lot about Christopher. I'll pretend I didn't see what you wrote about the kittens. (though that's actually more humane than just dumping puppies or kittens, hoping they can fend for themselves)

The photo of Olga wrapped in her pink blanket melted my heart. 🥰

Margaret said...

That would be a lot of pressure, being the star of a famous series of books. Drowning kittens was common practice but I still recoil from it.

Red said...

Drowning kittens on the farm seemed to be common practice. We caught our Dad in the act and I've never forgotten it.

Janie Junebug said...

You weren't a weird child. You were a child who read. I read Chris Milne's book long ago. I don't even remember the part about the kittens, which I'm sure is a good thing. I was shocked to learn that he was made to make personal appearances as the famous Christopher Robin.