The House at Pooh Corner as Tonic

IMG_2343On the drive and then the commuter rail, I checked my phone for updates. She testified he tried to rape her. He, he who wants to be a justice on the US Supreme Court, shouted he never did.

In the hotel, the next day, I watched angry women confront a senator, him in an elevator, with nowhere to hide. They cried and told him about their own experiences with sexual assault, and he averted his eyes. But he used his power to do right.

Arrogance, angst, animus, and more have been all the news.

High drama, all too common in the US these days.

What to do? How to escape, for a bit, the bad news about embarrassing elected officials and women mistreated?

The Hundred Acre Wood.

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The House at Pooh Corner.

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Winnie the Pooh.

Yes, sweet, steadfast, good-hearted Pooh was the antidote we chose.

The Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston, offered this respite. Their current show, “Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic,” includes dozens of drawings and letters and early editions of the books by A. A. Milne and illustrated by E. H. Shepard.

Escaping into this world was a balm.

It was lovely to see the inspirations for our Poohish heroes—the real-life Christopher Robin, the toys he so loved.

The exhibit is perfect for children, with a few interactive spots, but nothing too tarted up or technological to take away from the simple joys of reading and being Pooh.

And it was fun to see how Pooh and pals have evolved and become a part of popular culture, not just in the UK and US but all over the world. It seems we all understand the bear and the tiger, the piglet and the cranky donkey (my personal favorite).

The best part for me was the drawings. The way Shepard experimented and played and created expression and movement with just a few pen lines.

Eventually we had to say goodbye to Pooh and Christopher Robin and the others and head back to Trump and Kavanaugh and those others in the ickier, messier world we live in.

“But, of course, it isn’t really Good-bye because the Forest will always be there . . . and anyone who is Friendly with Bears can find it.”

Thank goodness for Pooh.

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86 thoughts on “The House at Pooh Corner as Tonic

  1. I never thought that something like this Circus would enter into the revered (used to be) Congress. What the Democrats have started there will reap! The #METOO movement is questionable to me. When things happened to me at work I dealt with it immediately. Not 36 years later. #MAGA
    I pray for the Kavanaugh family!

    • Our politics are very different, my friend, and I’m more likely to feel for Blasey Ford than Kavanaugh, but I am very glad we can be friends in spite of our differences!

  2. Kerry, I’m glad you had the opportunity to escape into the world of Winnie the Pooh for a short while. Your politics and mine are very much the same. I escape into my garden and whack away at the bittersweet!

  3. Your ‘post’ was well written and a great escape to start the day. Talking about our beloved Winnie, have you seen the movie Goodbye Christopher Robin – I caught it on Hulu – a wonderful additional escape if you can get it ~ Sharon

    • This is going to make me sound very strange . . . but I am not a movie person! I just don’t get into them and probably haven’t seen one in 20 years! But I have heard that the Christopher Robin one is excellent

  4. Having been raised on AA Milne (not just the Pooh books) in my now very distant childhood in England, when I first saw the animated movie it came as a vast surprise to me to find that Pooh and friends had been given American accents! In my head, they had always spoken their dialogue with their author’s British English voice and I found the disjoint strangely disturbing. But I guess we all have our own ‘voice of Pooh’ in our heads…

  5. My earliest memory of The Hundred Acre Wood was at Brownie camp where the leaders read to us about it when we went to sleep at night in our bunks. This was after asking if we’d had a movement. I had no idea what they meant but learnt to say ‘yes’ because, otherwise, they gave you a chalky Milk of Magnesia tablet to chew on. But I digress. Like Kate, the Disneyfication of the story seemed strange at first but, being an early convert to the world of Walt, I learned to love Pooh’s crumbly, gentle voice even if it does have an American accent. 🙂 Tigger’s my favourite.

  6. We had a small exhibit here many years ago and I picked up two beautiful copies of Shepard’s sketches for my girls. I always had AA Milne in my life and early on was attracted to his poems. Then my girls were raised by me reading them to them from Milne’s books, both stories and poems. But always the adventures from the Hundred Acre Wood were the favourites especially as every character had a special voice. I have to say I loved doing Eeyore’s voice best 🙂 So my kids were raised on a kiwi accented version of Pooh and the movie version was a culture shock 😀 The wisdom of Pooh often finds its way into my paintings still.

  7. Hundred Acre Wood is the perfect place to escape to! Love Winnie the Pooh, my sister painter me a sweatshirt when I was a child with a Pooh poem on, I can still quote it ‘If rabbit was bigger and fatter and stronger…. 🙂

  8. What a wonderful escape from the world. It was a very trying week. I have been listening to the Hidden Brain podcast on why the me too movement can happen now. So interesting – that if we can;t go after the powerful one we have been wronged by, we go after the one we can. His theory is that the ME Too movement came alive following Trump’s teflon deflection of grabbing women, etc. That the women of America can;t touch Trump, but they can speak out and be heard about all the other things that men have done to them. Not sure how true it is (and I still have more of the podcast to listen to) but it is intriguing. the men who have gotten away with this behavior easily for their whole lives must be reeling – who changed the rules?

    Women.

    • I have to admit that, even with the Pooh intervention, I’ve had a rough time this week. And now, it’s all coming to a head in the next couple days and I can hardly breathe. I hope your senator does what I want her to . . . Cannot wait for midterm elections.

      • I hope she does, too. But I have learned not to count on her. Wish McCain was still around to encourage her. I hope Murkowski also does what we want her to.

        If Collins was up for re-election this year, I think things would be really hard on her right now. But she isn’t, King is. I hope he wins… we are deluged with commercials begging Collins to vote against him, and also our second district congressional race is really close and so we get ads for that too. Can’t wait for this all to be finished.

  9. In one post, you hit on one of my most unfavorite topics, politics, and one of my most favorite ones, Winnie the Pooh. I took myself to city hall last year and changed my political affiliation to ‘undeclared’ because I don’t want to be on the rolls of either party, and I watch as little coverage as possible because I can’t mentally take any of it. Why do you think I get so much gardening done? 🙂 But, I hope my name is high on the list of those devoted fans of Winnie the Pooh. That exhibit would certainly be balm for my soul. I have never had any sense of direction, so I always think of “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But, however, where I am may be lost.” 🙂

    • I have an approach/avoid relationship with politics. It all stresses me out and wears me down but I can’t seem to look away. It’s all so important, in terms of our daily lives and those of the next generations. Ai yi. But Pooh helped . . .

  10. I must go dig out our thick volume of Pooh and put it beside my bed. I’d much rather read AA Milne stories than read the NYT and the latest horror story. I don’t know why I subject myself to it. I love Eeyore best of all, too. Imagine what a different character he would be if his tail never fell off.

    • We brought home a big volume of Pooh–my husband had never really been exposed to the stories. So, I watch a little CNN, then I look at Pooh. CNN, Pooh, CNN, Pooh, always ending with Pooh . . .

  11. Just what I needed, a bit of the Pooh to cheer me up! I agree the original drawings are delightful. Thank you for taking my depressed mind off of the latest nightmare for a brief reprieve!

    • I wish you could see the drawings in person–they are so delightful. What a great illustrator he was and the show really highlights that aspect of the books.

  12. The very early Disney Pooh animated movies were some of the few kiddie movies both my son and I enjoyed when he was little. I still remember the bear of very little brain and pooh sticks. Have you seen the movie about Christopher Robin?

    • No, I haven’t seen it. It’s very strange but I am not, at all, a movie person. I think the last movie I sat through, truly, was Back to the Future Part III (which might explain a lot). Did you like the Christopher Robin movie!

      • The Pooh movies were short episodes designed for a child’s attention span. I haven’t seen the C Robin movie, and thought you might have, but I now know that isn’t the case.

  13. Pooh was the first book I laughed out loud at, helplessly, reading by myself. I love the Eeyore drawings here. I always thought he was a lovable sad sack. I think I liked piglet the best, but at this point, they’re all a fine memory to be revisited. Thanks for the trip.

  14. The delightful Pooh and friends came out of a very dark time in history. I wonder if something equally wonderful will come out of this dark time. What a balm to the soul to see the Winnie the Pooh exhibition.

  15. Pooh is so very sweet! My one and only dramatic venture was being Roo in 7th grade. I loved being in that play and got the whole set of Pooh when the girls were babies. He is a lovely bear!

    • I can easily see why a dramatic film would’ve been overwhelming! I’ve wondered whether the museum exhibit was somehow planned to coincide with the film but I imagine it’s just a coincidence.

  16. I sat in the park near the woods and knitted my blues away. The sun warmed my skin while the breeze kept me cool. Thinking of Pooh and friends does lighten my heart. Yet, it is so very heavy for our country, our women, our world.

  17. There is something so appealing about original sketches and sketchbooks. Often they are more satisfying than the more polished final work. Not in Shepherd’s case though. Maybe because his drawings in the books still have that naive, simple line drawing quality. Delightful! When I was a child I loved the poems, and have just decided to buy them for my great-nephew’s first birthday. Another generation to love Pooh!
    Thanks for sharing. I am sorry that your world is so full of angst and anger. It is hard enough to watch from the other side of the world; it must be so difficult for you.

    • I bought a Pooh book for a little one, too–what would childhood be without Pooh and the gang? Our political situation is frustrating and maddening beyond my ability to communicate. We have midterm elections soon (not for president but for many members of Congress) and I expect I’ll be the first in line to vote!

  18. Dear Kerry, Thank you for sharing. The wise Pooh Bear brings comfort, as always. I highly recommend to you the book “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff when the uplifting feelings from this fabulous exhibition wear of! take care my dear friend, Johanna

    • I do need to get The Tao of Pooh–it has stood the test of time! And I brought home a big book of Pooh, from the museum shop, so I can dip into it when I need to! As someone who loves to draw, you’d love this exhibit, Johanna!

  19. Personally, I’m ready to move to the 100 Acre Wood. No surprises today, but depressing nonetheless. The optimist in me still hoped for an eleventh hour save. Sigh. Great pics. I’m glad you had a nice escape.

  20. What an exhausting, depressing week. Let’s hope that it galvanizes voters in November–especially young women. I told my husband that I’m ready to withdraw from the world into my 7- acre wood, gardening, spinning, and weaving.

      • Yes! I had a wonderful time, learned tons, and signed up for Swedish Classics next spring. No dorm next time, though–a little too much socialization for me AND I had a snoring roommate. Get this–at the dinner out at Becky’s parents’ house the last evening, I discovered that when I was a college freshman, I knew both Becky and her husband–long before they knew each other and in completely different settings! It was a bit surreal.

        • That is so weird and wonderful! How did you not know that you knew Becky? She’d be a hard personality to forget. And I agree about the dorm–I was roommate with my husband and we are both introverts so we were a little overwhelmed by the constant talk. And the two women we liked best shared a room with a really noisy snorer–they had a very hard time sleeping! We stayed at the Dancing Bear B&B when we went back.

          • Some friends and I used to go folk dancing in Northampton. I only remember four people from the group–a tall, skinny, eccentric man, who used to give us rides there, and three sisters–all in high school. The sisters were the standouts of the group and unforgettable. Not only were they very knowledgeable and talented dancers, they always dressed in amazing regional costumes. The youngest sister–only 13 at the time–was Becky. When she told me that she was one of the sisters, it all made such perfect sense–of course that is what she was doing when she was 13–leading folk dances while dressed in beautiful woven clothing!

          • It was a little mind-boggling. It got even freakier when I discovered that Becky’s husband, Leni (John when I knew him), and I were friends–he lived right down the hall from me in our dorm. Here I was at a Vavstuga dinner, totally unsuspecting, and all of sudden I realized that people I knew 45 years earlier were sitting across the table from me. Gobsmacked.

  21. I have always loved the Pooh stories and A A Milne’s poems too. When my first husband left me and my eldest daughter I craved comfort and re-discovered Pooh and his friends. Such balm!
    I recently read the biography of the author Penelope Fitzgerald. Her father’s second wife was E H Shepherd’s daughter, Mary who was only a few years older than Penelope. Mary Shepherd illustrated P L Traver’s ‘Mary Poppins’ books. I used to love those too.

  22. I’m on the same page with you on the issues and yes, Pooh has helped me through. My daughter and I went to see the movie “Christopher Robin” and followed that viewing with a trip through the bookstore where she gifted me with my own copy of the Tao of Pooh and a collection of Pooh stories. I didn’t remember reading them to my children but my daughter swears I did and she still has her copy. I read the stories at night before going to sleep now. And still watch the news with the sound off and often in One speed faster forward. It’s so hard to take in so much negativity. Good way to handle it. Thanks for sharing this exhibit that I wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.

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