Henry’s Lesson


One day Henry the grasshopper was sitting on a nice ivy leaf.  The ivy was hanging over a small stream and Henry was admiring himself in the water.  “Which profile is the best?” he thought, and turned this way and that admiring each reflection. There were other leaves floating on the water but Henry was only interested in seeing himself.  Suddenly a big foot stepped on the ivy plant and frightened Henry into jumping onto the first leaf he saw.  It was a big oak leaf and it was floating down the stream.

“Oh, bother!” cheeped Henry.  “How will I see myself with all these other leaves covering up the water?”  He thought about hopping back onto the shore, but then he caught sight of himself in an open spot and began admiring himself all over again.

Several times Henry could have hopped off the leaf and back to dry land, but he couldn’t decide which place looked best.  (He was a very careless grasshopper.)  The leaf kept floating down the small stream until the small stream became a larger one.  Now there were more open places in the water where Henry could admire his fine self.

No more thought was given to jumping off the leaf and Henry once more twisted and turned trying to see all of himself.  Still the leaf floated downstream.  And still Henry did not bother to look at anything but himself.

Now the stream flowed into a real river and suddenly Henry began to take notice of where he was.  “How did I get here!” he said in a grumpy voice.  “There is entirely too much water to hold my attention!  I need to go back home!

But when he looked for a leaf to hop onto, there were none close enough.  And to make matters worse, there were other objects floating in the river besides his oak leaf.  There where whole tree limbs and an old inner tube.  Henry began to feel rather small and out of place in the river.  He forgot to think of how he looked and began to think of the danger he was in.

He looked up and saw water birds darting here and there among the rocks and trees beside the river.  He knew he would make a tasty meal for one of them if they spotted him.  So, instead of standing up tall and proud, Henry crouched down low and made himself as small as he could.  He looked around for a safer place to hide and saw a tree limb floating close by.  He gave a big hop and landed under one of the leaves.

Oh, my goodness, he was relieved.  “I got myself out of that jam!” he bragged to himself and glanced down to see if his reflection was showing anywhere.  (Henry was not only careless, but vain as well!)  He stood up on his hopper legs and looked for his next hopping spot.  Ahead a little way the river made a bend and toward the opposite side there was a pile of drift wood and leaves that had stopped flowing with the river.  He could see his tree branch was headed right for it, so he got ready.

HOP!  He grabbed a twig and swung himself up to the top of the pile…. And right beside the biggest bird he had ever seen!  Henry almost fainted.  But the bird had not seen him and Henry hurried under the nearest pile of wet leaves.  As soon as the bird flew off, Henry made his way as quickly as he could to the shore and hopped a long way from the river!

Did Henry learn anything from his adventure?  Not a thing.  In fact, he was already wondering if he could find a droopy plant hanging over a nice little stream!

Are you smarter than Henry?  Do you look and listen before you play?  Do you know what is safe and what is not?  I’ll bet you do!



About dswan2

Poet, author, columnist, lyricist, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, wife of 50 years. Born and raised in America's Heartland
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