The videographer was focusing his lens on a squirrel lounging on the base of a sawed-off branch when we first met Cindy.
“The squirrel was pretty freaked out,” she said. “The first couple times his tail was whipping and he’s all ‘where’s my tree?!’”
Cindy was concerned about what had happened to the tree too. She had been connecting with it daily ever since she moved across the street from the park in which it was growing. Some days she’d just gaze out her window to appreciate how “big and honourable” it looked. Most days, she’d sit against it with a book, while it read over her shoulder. Every day, she’d wrap her arms around its trunk and feel tree seem to hug her back even bigger.
We stopped looking for a story for the end of the six o’clock news after we heard all that. And then — while the videographer was getting shots of all that tree-hugging — Cindy told us how her relationship with the tree changed during one of last month’s storms.
She was sleeping when she heard what sounded like fireworks erupting from the tree. That was followed by a large crash. When Cindy looked out her window she saw what had taken decades to grow up so tall, had fallen down in so many chunks on the street.
“And it was like ‘uh-oh! Where’s the car!’”
The tree had crushed the car. It was a total write-off. After the shock wore off, Cindy felt an unexpected feeling of gratitude.
“This was almost like him giving us a gift.”
You see — the car belonged to an elderly, disabled friend who struggled to drive it and couldn’t afford a more suitable one.
“Now she has a cheque and she can go buy a new car!”
So don’t be surprised if you see Cindy embracing what’s left of her tree a bit tighter than before.
“Now I know it was worth my while hugging that tree.” Because — she says — whether it’s dropping limbs on cars, or simply acorns for a squirrel, her tree seems to reward all he considers friends.
Adam Sawatsky is an Anchor/Reporter at CTV News Vancouver Island.