“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”
~ Winnie the Pooh
This may sound strange to some, but I love winter. I love the cold; I love the dark evenings; I love snow and winter storms. I love the feeling of cocooning inside while the wind whistles and snow curls and swirls around our home, and we’re inside, warm and snug as bugs. And I especially love that it’s the time of year for one of our favorite traditions: every winter, my partner and I pick out a book or two to read aloud together. On deliciously cold, dark, winter evenings, we snuggle up together with a soft blankie and a mug of steaming hot tea and my sweetheart reads to me. We never set out to make it a tradition—it all started one winter when my sweetie suggested that I pick out a book for him to read to me. The first book I picked was A.A. Milne’s “The House at Pooh Corner”, which I’d never read as a child. We both loved the experience so much that we went on to read the rest of the Pooh books and vowed to make it a yearly winter tradition to read at least one book together.
A Rich (But Relatively Bookless) Childhood
I was blessed with a happy childhood. I grew up in an extremely loving home, a home with intelligent, warm, accepting and affectionate parents. Though my childhood was not rich by material standards, it was filled with abundance—a wealth of love, music, dance, delicious home-grown, home-cooked food and lots of laughter. But books were not a big part of my childhood, a scarcity in our house because my parents (due to their extraordinary life circumstances) both had a very poor grasp of the English language—my father due to being profoundly deaf with no opportunity for proper education and my mother due to being an immigrant and also not having the opportunity to get the education she required. Although I never had the childhood pleasure of having stories read to me from books, my mother was an extremely creative woman and a wonderful storyteller. I have fond memories of her lying in bed with us kids in the dark as she told us bedtime stories, retelling the same stories, fairy tales and fables that her mother and grandmother told her back in her native country. Oh, how I loved all those magical stories. But as enchanting as they all were, a part of me longed to be read to from a book.
A Wish Come True
Not long after I met my amazing life partner, we discovered that he loved to read aloud to me. One cold, dark, stormy winter evening, we cozied up on the couch together and he suggested that I pick a book for him to read to me. Since I’d missed reading so many of the classics of children’s literature, the very first book I picked was A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh.
Not surprisingly, I fell instantly in love with the stories and adventures of Pooh and Piglet and I was particularly enamoured of E.H. Shepard’s original illustrations. I later told my best friend (who lives in a different city) how much I loved the adventures of Pooh and Piglet. One day shortly after, two adorable Pooh and Piglet pâté knives (the ones seen pictured above) arrived in the mail. I was delighted beyond words.
That was many years ago and, to this day, Pooh and Piglet, best friends forever, stand together in a cast iron mortar and pestle which sits atop my kitchen counter. A better symbol of my longstanding, beautiful friendship with my two dearest best friends—my beautiful life partner, and my dearest girlfriend, Jackie, there could not be. This post is dedicated to you both:
Thank you my Sweet Bear for reading to me every winter. And thank you, dear Jackie, for your unconditional love and longstanding friendship. Pooh & Piglet Forever!
All photography by madlyinlovewithlife; © 2011 and 2016 madlyinlovewithlife.