“Happy may be all very well, Eeyore,
but it doesn’t butter any parsnips.”
Everyone should have their own hundred-acre wood like Christopher Robin and his imaginary friends. It would be wonderful to own the woods, but that’s a bit much for all of us to own. At least, you should have a hundred-acre wood that you can easily visit and walk and really get to know.
I have such a wood. It’s a 15-minute walk from my front door. It is actually 157.19 acres. There’s a reservoir on one side that can pass for a lake, a road alongside the edge of a cliff, and a small mountainside park.
It was an acreage gifted to the New Jersey county of Essex (which does sound English) with the stipulation being that it be preserved in its natural state. All that’s changed is a small parking area and some trails that were actually part of a minimal design by the Olmsted Brothers.
I like to walk to the Quarry Point scenic lookout. Spring and fall are good times to watch migratory hawks there. On today’s winter walk, it was quite empty of people. No bears or other creatures except in the imagination.
I was browsing at a bookstore during the week and I came across Return to the Hundred Acre Wood in the Pooh section. I didn’t recognize that title as part of the Pooh books. That’s because it was written by David Benedictus as the first official post-Milne Pooh book written with the full backing of A. A. Milne’s estate.
Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore (and one new character, Lottie the Otter) return to Christopher Robin’s wood.
It has nice illustrations by Mark Burgess who also worked on new versions of another famous bear named Paddington.
It has been more than 80 years since Christopher Robin said goodbye to Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood and now he returns from boarding school.
It is similar to the originals but not the same thing. It has ten stories, like the originals, but I don’t think I like this older Christopher. Would A.A. Milne have wanted them to ever grow any older?
A.A. Milne was born in 1882. He graduated from Cambridge, became Assistant Editor at Punch, a classic British humor magazine, got married, enlisted when World War I began, started writing and had his first play produced in London in 1917 and was considered a witty and fashionable London playwright.
In 1920, his son, Christopher Robin Milne was born and when Christopher was three, while they were on holiday Milne began work on a collection of verses for children which was published as When We Were Very Young in 1924. The characters were based on his son’s stuffed animals (except for Owl and Rabbit) and the bear was called Edward.