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May 07, 2006

Poohsticks

gently flowing river
If you're reading this and don't know what Poohsticks is, I pity your childhood.
For all the nonsense my own childhood contained, part of the good variety was Winnie the Pooh in book form.  I've got the books somewhere, and while Elder Boy has yet to be properly introduced (he knows the Disneyfied version), he'll have a frame of reference when the time comes.

His grandpa (my own as-I-may-have-mentioned absent father) and I have taken him to the various parks within walking distance in "my neighborhood".  One which has a recently-added windmill, henceforth known as "the windmill park", had prior to the construction a concrete-bedded stream (we'll call it) dividing the public area from the reserved-for-50-or-more public picnic area.  This stream has fences along both concrete banks, and a covered bridge joining the two areas.  There are many trees in the park, on both sides, and there are subsequently many leaves, branches, seedpods and the like "littering" the ground.

One trip to the park, my dad wanted to show Elder Boy that some things would float.  Into the stream went a large leaf.  Into the stream went a piece of bark.  We tried various other objects, guessing before each went in whether this type of thing would sink or float.  Most, of course, floated merrily (there seemed to be no distress, at any rate) down the stream around a bend until they were obscured from view.

This has morphed over the years (and I believe the plural to be truly earned).  There are now swordfights and other battles with the sticks, and they are sacrificed to the water monster living in the stream, to appease its seemingly insatiable appetite.  At its core, though, the activity still goes straight back to Poohsticks.  Every so often one of the bits of nature's debris will be tossed off the far side of the bridge, and we'll watch to see whether it makes it under the bridge before disappearing from sight (into the monster's belly, apparently).

I try not to be unduly melancholy.  I think the vast majority of my goth days are behind me.  That doesn't stop me from being a realist, though.  On today's trip to the windmill park, I realized that Elder Boy will grow up, and his beloved grandpa (who finally seems fully recovered from the radiation therapy) will, for one reason or another, not be able to go to the park with us and throw sticks into the stream.

I hope that well before the day comes when the reason is he's not physically present, I have explained to Elder Boy (and Smaller Boy) that Poohsticks is just like what we do (did) with Grandpa, except in Pooh's case, they sometimes got to reuse the sticks.
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