Brian is painting a chair in his driveway when we stop to ask if there’s a story behind it.
He says, ‘No,’ but his tree has one. He points in the direction of a white weeping birch in the front yard. Its delicate branches are bending over the sidewalk to the boulevard. Brian says the tunnel it creates is frequented by locals and photographed by tourists. In his New York accent he proclaims: “Everybody just goes crazy for the tree!”
If you want to understand how Brian personally feels about it, you need to hear about the time he was visiting San Diego. He was attempting to test a new tape recorder while driving and took a wrong turn. He ended up in front of an arena which was surrounded by people waiting for a Rolling Stones concert.
At first it looked like any stop from the band’s 1972 tour, however, after thousands of fans found out they were sold fake tickets, Brian found himself caught in the middle of a riot. He was beaten by a police officer with a baton. The only thing he could protect himself with was that new tape recorder.
The next day, the recording of Brian struggling to ask why he was being hit, was heard on TV and quoted in the paper. The incident was so unsettling, Brian decided to leave the US and move to Canada. He eventually ended up in BC where he befriended a woman named Bonnie. After being friends for years, Brian declared his love. She tells us she’ll never forget their first kiss: “It was sweet beyond belief.”
While the videographer starts taking pictures of their wedding photographs, I notice the bridal party is posed under a tree that looks just like the one in front of this James Bay house they’d eventually move into.
“I love the tree,” Bonnie gushes. “(Every morning) I ask how many kisses have you had today?” She explains they see couples kissing under the tree all the time. Brian and Bonnie themselves enjoy the romance of the tree multiple times a day. “I drag my wife under there and smooch for a while,” he says.
During those embraces, Brian feels gratitude for that tape recorder, wrong turn and riot.
“It changed my entire life.” Because of what happened down there, he spends every day under the kissing tree up here, and Bonnie says, the kisses are still, “sweet beyond belief.”
Adam Sawatsky is a reporter-anchor at CTV News Vancouver Island.