#1909930 - 01/02/08 05:57 AM Playing Pooh Sticks in Winter from
"Hello, Pooh." I said. It was an unnaturally warm day in the hundred acre wood,
and I'd been able to keep my warmest clothes at home and gone out for a walk. I
had not minded where I was going and ended up at the lowest elevation--the
bridge over the stream where everyone played Pooh Sticks.
"Hello." said Pooh. "Isn't it just the perfect sort of day?"
"I suppose. " I replied. "For Winter."
I was aimlessly tossing pine cones off the bridge into the water and then
watching them float away. Pine cones had been the original inspiration for the
game of pooh sticks, and there was a ready supply close to the bridge.
"You seem down." said Pooh. "Is there something the matter?"
"I'm not sure." I replied. " I just looked this morning on the Campfire. I made
my 2000th post."
"Oh, Goody!" said Pooh. "We should have a party. Doesn't that mean you get to
wear a funny hat or something?"
"No," I replied. "Two thousand posts don't get you anything special, and I'm
thinking of giving up on parties after the last one." Pooh scratched his head,
not fully grasping that idea.
"I still don't know why you seem so glum." said Pooh.
"Glum?" I replied. "No, I'm not glum. I just realized that its been six years
here at the 'Fire, and there was my 2000th post. It was just something about an
IPOD-- nothing important. Yesterday I made a bunch of posts and received a bunch
nice words from my friends. It made me feel good, but already the posts are
beginning to fall off the front page. I realized that for 6 years and 2000
posts, all I have to show for it is--well, it's like these pine cones here."
"I'm not sure I follow you."
"I keep tossing these pine cones in the water and watching them drift
downstream. No matter what I do, the pine cone eventually hits the water and
eventually falls down through that little riffle at the tail end of the pool and
after it hits the eddy at the other end I never see it again. I could just drop
it in, or fling it as far and as hard as I want to, but every pine cone I pick
up and drop in just falls into that deep eddy down there and that's it."
"I had never really watched where they go in that great a detail before."
replied Pooh. "I see what you are saying now. There goes your last one now."
"I came down here in a bit of a midwinter funk." I continued. "Somehow this pile
of pinecones caught my attention, and I've probably been an hour or so dropping
cones in and trying to figure out my life. It all just comes to the same thing."
"Well," said Pooh. "Isn't that what you get for dropping in pine cones on this
side of the bridge?"
"Huh?" I didn't follow.
"If you are going to play pooh sticks," continued Pooh. "The first thing you
need to remember is to throw them in on the upstream side of the bridge, so they
pass under the bridge. That way you have something to look forward to when you
run to the other side and watch."
"Yes," I said. "But I still don't get where you're going."
"Additionally," said Pooh. "Pooh sticks is only a good game if you have a friend
along and he's throwing something in at the same time. That makes it a fun game.
Otherwise, you're just chucking cones off the bridge and I can see that is no
fun at all. What you need to do is do it this way." Pooh went over and picked up
a couple of cones and came back. We went to the upstream side of the bridge and
we both tossed our pine cones in at the same time. "Now we scurry over to the
other side and wait." He went. I followed. Pretty soon the two pine cones
emerged on the other side. Pooh's came out first.
"You win, Pooh." I said.
"It really is not fair." said Pooh. "I've been at this longer than you. You
actually did quite well, considering."
"Considering?" I asked. "What's too this game anyway?"
"Ahhhh!" said Pooh. "There are subtle nuances to this game that only become
apparent after considerable amounts of play."
"Such as?" I asked.
"Such as . . .such as. . ." Pooh faltered. "I am a bear of little brain, I'm not
sure I'm good at explaining them. However, I am sure that you can catch on. It's
like the Campfire. You only have made 2000 posts, right?"
"Look at where you were when you made your first post."
"And look where you are now."
"I'm playing Pooh Sticks with a stuffed bear."
"Precisely!" replied Pooh. "Think of what it will be like when you get to 4,000
"Not much more than I get chucking pine cones off the bridge." I replied.
"If you keep throwing them on THAT side of the bridge." replied Pooh. "You need
to be on THIS side of the bridge for anything to get done."
"You are the expert on Pooh Sticks," I replied. "I am at the feet of the
"Very well," said Pooh. "Let us begin again." He handed me a pine cone and we
tossed them into the stream and then scurried to the other side of the bridge."
"I win" said Pooh. "But you seemed to do much better that time."
"Really?" I said. "I don't see it."
"You threw the cone in without caring. You let go of the cone both with your
hand and your mind. One of the hardest part of Pooh Sticks is to let go of the
cone with your whole being and then run to the other side and experience the
cone coming out as a fresh thing. The part where the cone passes under the
bridge is inconsequential. If you try and hold onto the pine cone with your
mind, you only hold it back. I believe that is why your cones keep coming out a
little behind mine. You still care about the cones after you have let them go."
"I am not sure I fully understand." I said, "but I will give it a try."
"The other thing is to stop worrying about what happens to the pine cone after
it emerges on the other side. Until you pointed it out to me, I had not noticed
that big deep eddy at the end of the pool. I'm sorry, but I am a bear of meager
mental assets. I cannot concentrate on the pine cone, the tossing, the discovery
and that big dark eddy at the end all at once. I need to concentrate on Pooh
Sticks or my game is just simply not up to speed."
"I'm sorry I got your mind tied up in that." I said. "You're right, it's
inconsequential." I handed him a cone. "Shall we begin again?" I asked. Pooh
grabbed a cone and cheerfully chucked it over. I did the same, and then ran to
the other side. Mine came out first that time. "That's amazing." I said. "You're
right. It does work-- the not caring part that is."
"Good for you." said Pooh.
And so it went that we chucked countless pine cones over the bridge and played
until the sun was passing behind the ridge, and it was time for us to begin our
trek back to the Campfire.
"Thank you," I said to Pooh. "That was a most enjoyable afternoon."
"You are most welcome." said Pooh. "You did quite well today, and after I got
that blasted eddy back out my stuffing-filled head, I think I did quite passably
"You did Pooh." I said.