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road trip to the small


By Henry Victor 

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together”. – Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

It was early spring and the year was 2015. Justin, my grandson and I were on a road trip through the Rockies, the mountains in Alberta. In many places, the snow had still not melted. Having passed through Red Deer, we were in Canmore the first night. Second day through Banff we were driving to Jasper. As I turned into Highway 93, there was a roadside sign that stated, “Do not drive beyond this road if your vehicle is not fixed with winter tires”. I read it loud for my five-year old grandson. Probably, he did not know that I was too preoccupied with the Edmonton weather pattern and much in haste to fix my all-season tires to my Suzuki SX 4. Of course, my little fellow does not pay attention to all these adult concerns; fun is his only focus.


Justin responded with his usual quickness, “You don’t have to listen to that, (Thatha)”- the Tamil word for grandfather. He continued with his effort, “Do what you like”! This was followed with his typical attempt at pressurizing the old man, who eventually gives in! His grandfather’s justification was that risk taking is healthy in order to grow into maturity.


We continued our drive in the winding and narrow road, also looking for wild animals. In one place beside a river bank, he wanted me to stop for him to pick some rocks – gifts for his family. He picked three fairly big rocks and gave to me saying that they were for his dad, his mom, and for himself! I carried them to the car and he came behind me with a tiny rock, which he said was for me.


We got in and continued our journey. After a little while I put a question to my grandson: Why does your grandfather get only a tiny rock? Justin, again, was quick and very firm from his back-seat: “Thatha, you must learn to live with the small”!
No more talk!


“Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things” – Vernor Vinge (1944)


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