"Pooh had just come to the bridge; and not looking where he was going, he tripped over something, and the fir-cone jerked out of his paw into the river. 'Bother,' said Pooh, as it floated slowly under the bridge, and he went back to get another fir-cone which had a rhyme to it. But then he thought that he would just look at the river instead, because it was a peaceful sort of day, so he lay down and looked at it, and it slipped slowly away beneath him, and suddenly, there was his fir-cone slipping away too.--A.A. Milne in The House at Pooh Corner
'That's funny,' said Pooh. 'I dropped it on the other side,' said Pooh, 'and it came out on this side! I wonder if it would do it again?' And he went back for some more fir-cones. It did. It kept on doing it. Then he dropped two in at once, and leant over the bridge to see which of them would come out first; and one of them did; but as they were both the same size, he didn't know if it was the one which he wanted to win, or the other one. So the next time he dropped one big one and one little one, and the big one came out first, which was what he had said it would do, and the little one came out last, which was what he had said it would do, so he had won twice ... and when he went home for tea, he had won thirty-six and lost twenty-eight, which meant that he was - that he had - well, you take twenty-eight from thirty-six, and that's what he was. Instead of the other way round."
That, friends, is Pooh Sticks, simple fun for young and old, boy and girl, man and woman. As a small boy, I loved Pooh Sticks. Our family was always out and about somewhere on the weekends (thanks Mom and Dad) and often in a park or other outdoorsy space, these being generally free. Whenever we crossed a bridge over moving water, we'd have to play Pooh Sticks.
As I got older, my friends and I would play in streams and creeks, building dams and bridges and such. I'd always suggest a "stick race" and it was always fun. Calling it Pooh Sticks then would have been very uncool, but that's what it was, and I knew it.
In high school, when I started spending a lot of time with a certain girl, Lisa, who would become my wife, we would always be going off somewhere, often in the outdoors, it being generally free. Once, when crossing a bridge, I asked Lisa to play Pooh Sticks. I didn't think about it at the time, but it didn't occur to me to call it anything but Pooh Sticks, because Lisa was Lisa and would understand. She did understand, and we played Pooh Sticks together for years and then brought our own little boy into the world.
Today that little boy is 12, a "tween" as he is fond of reminding us, and he too enjoys Pooh Sticks, often asking to play on our way across the canal to the beach on the little slice of paradise on which we were blessed enough to settle. And every time we play, I smile, inside and out.
I have to thank Walt Disney for a lot of that smile. I didn't pick up on Pooh Sticks from the books, though I'm sure my mom read them to me. I fell in love with Pooh Sticks, and the Hundred Acre Wood, through Disney's cartoons. I can't read anything of Pooh without hearing the cartoon voice (which made watching his voice come from Kaa the snake in Jungle Book a bit disturbing) and seeing his chubby wubby self waddling down the path. It's a little piece of that Disney magic that's been with me and a part of me since my earliest memories. And it's that magic that made me want to write this blog.
We are planning a trip to Walt Disney World this fall and I wanted to record my rather obessive planning for my own sake as much as thinking anyone else would be interested. But I got to thinking about the reason we love our trips to "The Dis" as much as we do. Our good friends are going in less than a month and I know they are hoping for the total escape that only the magic of Disney can offer. Disney, for those of us who love it, can truly make all the stress and bad and worries of the real world go totally away. It's a haven, a sanctuary, one of the last truly magical places left. I was thinking how great it would be to carry at least a bit of that feeling with us even when we were stuck here in the real world. So that, too, is what I plan to write about, living a happy and magic-filled life no matter where we are and what is happening around us.