Welcome! It’s May! Flowers are blooming and everywhere I look I see shades of green. My spirit wants to skip across lush grass with my daughter and let my youthful heart be joyous. Inside this moment of carefree fun, I find my younger self when I look in my daughter’s eyes. Perhaps one of the things I enjoyed about teaching so much was how easily my students pulled on my childlike desires to have everything be new, to have everything be an adventure, to have everything be wind in my hair, and to wear a smile so wide and unwavering that my cheeks grew sore.
This past April, I rediscovered my youthful love of Winnie-the-Pooh along with some fond memories of the old bear. It all started with a story I contributed to New Flash Fiction Review titled “What Blooms.” It is a sad story about a young girl’s loss of her mother. In the opening, the mother is reading to her daughter and I quote a passage from a Winnie-The-Pooh story. I picked the quote by simply opening my daughter’s complete Winnie-The-Pooh and pointing. I was amazed that my finger did, in fact, land upon the absolutely perfect quote to include in my story, providing it with the frame I didn’t even know I was searching for.
When I was in middle school, my mother’s office was located in downtown Ottumwa, Iowa. Everyday after school, I walked to her office and remained there until she closed for the day. Her office was at the end of a long hall. She shared the floor with two dentists who were closed every Wednesday. On those days, I would open her door, get a running start from as far in her office as possible and do front handsprings down the length of the hall. (The dance teacher in me cringes that I did this on a cement tiled floor, but so far my knees aren’t showing too much damage.)
But on most days, I found myself in a bookstore that was a block away and not much bigger than the living room in my home. One day, I stumbled upon a new Dell Yearling Book color edition of Winnie-the-Pooh. I just happened to have $2.00 on hand, which covered the $1.95 cost plus tax. On my next visit, I purchased The House at Pooh Corner for .95c. The bookstore owner asked if I wasn’t a bit too old to be buying Pooh books. With utmost earnestness, I looked at him and said, “How can anyone ever be too old for Winnie-the-Pooh?”
His response, “I hope you always feel that way.”
I have and do, as I believe that returning to Winnie-the-Pooh is about revisiting a youthful, childlike joy, not a childish desire to never grow up.
The language of Christopher Robin, Pooh, and friends is a delight to read; and so, I have decided to do a story time for this issue of The Burning Hearth. With a bit of help from my daughter Hannah (who chose to remain off screen), I read In Which Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole.
I do hope you have enjoyed my story time. Before signing off I have a few announcements. On May 11, I had a piece published in the U. K. journal Sledgehammer titled “How to Hew a Family.” I hope you will take a minute to read it. Later this month, I have a piece coming out at another U. K. journal Janus Literary. This is a rather dark, spooky fiction about a picture of a dead boy that was in my childhood home. And, I hope that you will take a moment to pop over to New Flash Fiction Review to review Issue #24 that went live on May 15. It is the first issue I was a fiction editor for. I’m so glad to be a part of this team, and so proud of this issue. It is full of great writing by amazing writers. I promise, it won’t disappoint.
Next month, The Burning Hearth will feature a print interview with Meg Pokrass, who just happens to be the founding editor of New Flash Fiction Review. The interview will highlight her book “Spinning to Mars” due out in June. “Spinning to Mars” was the winner of the Blue Light Book Award (Blue Light Press) in 2020.