The wisdom of a bear named ‘Pooh’

My father called me Winnie Pooh when I was little, dropping the “the” so as not to be accused of violating copyright laws (I’m sure that was the reason).
When I re-read the letters he wrote to me just before he died, letters I’ve read at least a hundred times, he started each one with “Dear Pooh,” simplifying the name even more and willingly copying the habit of those referring to Winnie the Pooh.
Though Pooh was considered by his creator and admirers to be “naïve and slow-witted,” I consider Winnie the Pooh to be the smartest bear I know. Smarter, in fact, than most people I know, and certainly smarter than me, but he helps me strive to see life as clearly and as simply as he.
He has what few of us do: common sense.
Winnie the Pooh is a humble bear who takes on the problems of the day with a hum, a good strategy we should all adopt. Winnie the Pooh, like me, is aging but unlike me, he is unchanging, connecting with children for the past 92 years–an honour his creator had no idea of.
Canada plays an important role in the creation of Winnie the Pooh; more specifically, a Canadian soldier and a veterinarian, Harry Colebourn.
Harry bought a black bear cub for $20 at the train station in Eagle River on his way overseas to serve in World War I. The bear became the mascot of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade.
When Harry was dispatched to France, he loaned “Winnie,” named after his adopted hometown of Winnipeg, to the London Zoo, where she became a beloved resident. A.A. Milne took his son, Christopher, to the zoo to visit Winnie the black bear and the rest, as they say, is history.
A.A. Milne, Alan Alexander Milne, brought Winnie the Pooh to life for his son. Milne was born in London in 1882. He had one son whose name was none other than Christopher Robin, born in 1920.
Christopher Robin lives on in the pages of A.A. Milne’s books, a timeless character for whom many feel great affection.
Milne studied mathematics and then became a successful playwright before he started penning his tales with Winnie the Pooh. But his previous work was seriously overshadowed with the adventures of a bear and almost entirely forgotten, and it is said he didn’t really want to be known as an author of children’s literature.
But that’s where he’s wrong. I think the older we get, the greater lessons we see that occurred in The Hundred Acre Wood.
Pooh shared the fact that a river knows this: there is no hurry. We shall get there one day. I grew up next to a river and knew exactly what Pooh meant; hurrying doesn’t change anything.
Perhaps his greatest wisdom is this:
What day is it, asked Pooh.
It’s today, squeaked Piglet.
My favourite day, said Pooh.
I think I’ll go and read my dad’s letters over again. Just because today is the best sort of day to do such things.
wendistewart@live.ca

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