A few days ago, Chris and I went for a walk with Marie-jeanne and her grandson Ruben, nearly 5. Well, in fact we all went for a walk with Ruben. That is not Ruben in the above portrait; rather it’s his portrayal of me. Not bad, eh? It hangs on our fridge, as I promised him it would, after he drew me a few months ago.
For a lad of nearly five, Ruben is rather small—although you’d never know it from his voice or energy. His hands are tiny, yet dexterous, which he proved as we hunted bugs, toads, worms and one particular grasshopper. Ruben had decided that I was okay on the day he drew my portrait. In fact, he offered me juice and a biscuit whilst completely ignoring his grandparents, his mother and Chris…truly an honour. And he took me to see his room, replete with pirate ship bed, a toy pirate ship and many other fun things. Nous sommes copains.
Our walk was along la voie verte, a disused railway line that is used for walking, cycling and exploration. La voie verte is actually comprised of thousands of kilometres of former railways. We managed about four kilometres that day because we were overwhelmed by discoveries. For example, as Ruben put it, « Il y a beaucoup d’arbres! » Certainly, the forest is composed of many trees—a lot of them. This can escape the notice of busy adults. And then came THE grasshopper, which Ruben caught and then gingerly carried between his thumb and forefinger. In fact, we all had the opportunity to guard the treasured grasshopper—who, in fact, survived all of us and even managed to escape just before our expedition was finished.
Oh, Ruben gave me a stick, which is indispensable on an expedition such as ours. We used our sticks to push aside tall grass, dig holes, etc. Ruben’s little hand was engulfed in mine as we slid down the river bank to search for stuff…and things. I also hauled him back up the slippery bank (and he still had the grasshopper in his left hand!). Although he yowled two or three times when a bug bit him, he was never put off from finding the next critter. My townie grandkids would have abandoned the hunt long before the third bite. But Ruben lives on a farm, where things bite and peck and butt. And despite living on a farm, he still finds interest in EVERYTHING. When we three adults walked too far ahead of Ruben, we heard a VERY loud « ATTENDEZ! » And so we stopped. We knew it would be important. When I saw two ladies approaching us with a pram, I informed Ruben they were probably pirates. He gave me that knowing look which said all: «Pirates? Really? They are only found on the high seas. » I suppose he was right, for just as we greeted the supposed pirates, the grasshopper escaped and one of the ’pirates’ caught it and returned it to Ruben. Real pirates would have kept such treasure—as Ruben well knew. So I went back to looking for bugs, which by this time were safely carried in his cap.
If this story has bored you, then it is clear that you need a Ruben in your life, to (re)introduce you to this fascinating planet on which we live. There is so much to discover!