A Little Smackerel of Nothing

May 5, 2015 @ 8:42 pm | Filed under: ,

“I like that too,” said Christopher Robin, “but what I like doing best is Nothing.”

“How do you do Nothing?” asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time.

“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it ‘What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?’ and you say ‘Oh, nothing,’ and then you go and do it.”

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh.

“This is a nothing sort of thing that we’re doing now.”

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh again.

“It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

“Oh!” said Pooh.


We order wonderful little homemade soaps from Julie at The Parsonage, whom I met via Lesley Austin’s Wisteria and Sunshine community. Julie’s soaps smell heavenly and last a long time (much longer than the bottles of liquid soap we used to tear through). One of my favorite things about them is that they come wrapped in strips of fabric—so simple and pretty. Rilla saves these cloth strips and this morning she started to sew them into a little blanket. I was reading our chapter of House at Pooh Corner (we’re almost finished, sob!) and got such a smile out of the scene at my feet—these two each so intent on their separate pursuits. I couldn’t resist laying down the book and snapping the moment with my phone. Rose allowed Huck access to her Snap Circuits set a couple of weeks ago and he has played with almost nothing else since. He has worked through all the projects in the book and is beginning to invent his own whirring, buzzing, siren-blaring arrangements (and to drop extremely broad hints about needing more parts).

Then, suddenly again, Christopher Robin, who was Still looking at the world with his chin in his hands, called out “Pooh!”

“Yes?” said Pooh.

“When I’m–when– Pooh!”

“Yes, Christopher Robin?”

“I’m not going to do Nothing any more.”

“Never again?”

“Well, not so much. They don’t let you.”

I think I’m not going to read them the final chapter of Pooh Corner just yet. We started with this volume because I couldn’t find our copy of Winnie the Pooh, which comes first. But now I want to go back and read them that one (it’s bound to turn up). I flipped ahead to the end of Pooh Corner today and got teary at the goodbye scene…I’m not ready for these two, my last small fry, to contemplate leaving behind the Hundred Acre Wood. At least I know that no matter how Old they get, and how Busy with Important Things, they’ve been raised to appreciate the value of Nothing.

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14 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. sarah says:

    But the end of the book isn’t the end of the story, is it? The best stories live on in your heart always. I must confess, I was never introduced to Winnie the Pooh (although I did get AA Milne poems) when I was little, and so I didn’t introduce it properly to my own child (only a couple of movie versions). Maybe I will pick it up now.

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      No, the story lives on forever, thank goodness! But the end of this book is particularly wrenching, as the animals become aware that Christopher Robin is leaving them behind–he begins school in the course of the book, and his final conversation with Pooh expresses his own awareness that he will probably stop playing with his old friends soon, might even forget about them. It’s full of adult wistfulness and nostalgia. But for children still in the full flush of belief in the imaginary world, too soon, too soon!

      Sarah, you should read them–the writing itself is a treat, full of unexpected phrasings and wry observations. Rilla just chuckles the whole way through–this low, delighted laugh.

      • monica says:

        That ending always gets me too. I have the same involuntary reaction with Charlotte’s Web and Miss Rumphius and When I Was Young in the Mountains. Tears tears tears. I am getting bleary eyed just thinking of those books. sigh

  2. Penny says:

    I completely understand.

    Did you know the original Pooh/Piglet/Tigger/Kanga/Eyeore reside at the New York Public Library? I’ll send you a photo 🙂

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      Replying to your email too but THANK YOU for sending the photo! I squealed! I have wanted to visit them there myself. Piglet is even tinier than I imagined!

  3. maria says:

    Alas I can not recall the exact quote or who said it, however the point of what was said is that simply existing, just being, is enough.

  4. sarah says:

    I so completely understand. My favorite times I will remember of my girls and our family are all the ones full of “Nothing.”

    And unlike seemingly everyone else in this world who worries that they aren’t doing enough activities and enrichment for their children, I always worry that we aren’t doing enough “Nothing.”

  5. mamacrow says:

    oh that final chapter! I very rarely read either of the books in order, I tend to dip in and out – the one where owl’s tree falls down on a day which is indeed blusterous, the flood one when we’re having rain, and so on.

    We’re lucky enough to be less than hour’s drive away from Ashdown Forest, where the books are set and where Christopher Robin grew up, and often go and visit the enchanted place and gallian’s lap and of course the bridge!

  6. Lindsay says:

    Yes, that ending is so melancholy. However, maybe don’t read it and go back to the other book and re-read and re-read. When I was a child we got the whole big book (both volumes) of Winnie the Pooh at the library, and when that was due, we went back and got their other copy. And when that was due — back for the first copy. I don’t know for how many years that went on. And in between we listened to Pooh stories on our little record player. Why we never bought the books, I don’t know. The set was one of the first things I bought when I was teaching. So, none of you really need to say goodbye to the Hundred Acre Wood. Keep visiting. And you can always go back.

  7. Karen Edmisten says:

    I’m going to skip straight to a different kind of melancholy about growing up — his hair!

  8. Jennifer says:

    I’ve never read these!

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      Oh Jenn! You are in for such a treat. The writing of these is really something special. Inimitable. A flavor all its own. I just laugh and laugh the whole way through.

  9. Sherry says:

    I realized a few months ago that neither my sixteen year old nor my thirteen year old knew how to play Pooh-sticks, or even what it was. So we’ve been reading Pooh and now House at Pooh Corner aloud for the past few weeks. At first, they were telling me that they were too old for Winnie the Pooh, but they were the ones who wanted to continue and read House at Pooh Corner after we finished the first book. Since these two are my youngest, it does have a certain poignancy for me, and perhaps for them. But I bet they’ll remember when they were teenagers and we read Winnie the Pooh together.

  10. Tamara says:

    I was just talking to a friend about the final chapter of Pooh Corner! I never read it as a child, and so I was unprepared for the tears in my eyes as I read it to my daughter. *sob* I love it, though. I should read it any time I start to go a little nuts with my little ones just to help me keep things in perspective.