Summer smiles, astonished and feeble
Yesterday afternoon was spent on the green fringes of Brussels, first playing football at our home pitch near the wooded farmlands between Overijse and La Hulpe, then joining the Polish ladies around the Étangs de Boisforts. Mum, soft blond-topped, was pushing the stroller along the bank of the lake into the sunshine, when I arrived, and Beankusz squinting and only slowly recognising me against the glare. She began to complain; I gave her a biscuit. It was almost t-shirt warm in the late afternoon sun but the air was crisp, on a patch of meadow dragonflies hovered overhead, and where a thoughtful someone had installed a discreet toadstool seat for passers-by. Beankusz was drawn into the shade, now whistling as she ambles. Mum warned her against the stinging nettles lurking near the fences. Under the fir tree Beankusz was absorbed by the soft debris of bark and dead needles, scooping up clumps, studying the rough flakes as they dustily escaped her grasp and fell to the floor. She rolled tiny black seeds between her thumb and forefinger, and would have keenly pursued further investigation from inside her mouth but for mummy or daddy’s interventions. White shafts from the low hanging sun turned the water silver. The gigantic, slightly blighted, horse chestnut trees released their conkers around us, like a desultory hail shower. Beankusz loved their brown sheen – the colour of the first wispy hairs on her head – and their oval smoothness, making them also perfect for oral exploration, as evidenced when she turned to me with the cavity of her mouth fully occupied by one such specimen. Mum spotted young frogs gambolling in the dead leaves and undergrowth. She gathered one into the hollow of her hands and we had a moment to admire its soft back, tiny feet and impatient mien, before it hopped away to continue its journey home to the lake. On the hillside opposite there was an apple orchard. The fruit were full, but not quite ripe enough to yield to the little hand’s grasp and twist.