‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.’ - Ben Franklin (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sarah Simpson Column: The terrible truth of tail lights and tree planting

I’m not typically one to spout out unsolicited advice but I’m going to go against my tendencies just this once and do it anyway because I feel pretty confident it’s a solid tip.

Here it is: if you are invited to a public event on the property of the kind of man that would donate his land to a volunteer group who wants to plant trees on it, do not back into the truck of that property owner and smash his tail-light before you even get to the planting site.

I offer you this advice so that you won’t ever feel the way I felt walking into the TREE (The Reforestation Efforts of Everyone) event during National Forest Week on Sept. 28.

It was a beautiful day out, though I was a little cranky at having to work on my day off. In fact, I’d wavered on even attending the event but opted to split the difference and bring my family with me instead of skipping it because it was such a worthwhile event to cover.

And hey, maybe my kids would learn something.

We got there and then I promptly backed into David Slade’s truck. I broke it. I left a note and my business card in the truck before making the roughly 200-metre walk of shame to get to the field the group of volunteers were working in. Then I had to put my hat in my hand and ask around to see whose day I wrecked (besides my own).

That’s when I learned it was Mr. Slade’s truck. I forget the exact words we exchanged when I approached him but my first words were along the lines of: “Hi, Mr. Slade, I’m Sarah from the Citizen, thank you for inviting me to this event and I’m so sorry but I broke your truck and I will fix it.”

Were my embarrassment a drill I would have hit the Earth’s core.

If he was angry he certainly never showed it. We talked a little about it and just like that, his attention turned to the reason we were there: planting 300 trees on his former sheep pasture.

Still feeling awful, I got to work taking my photos and talking to people, in a bit of a fog. Then I saw my shy and unsure kids taken by volunteers to make special name tags for themselves out of tree chips and string and it lightened my heart a little.

I think it might have been Mrs. Slade that offered my son popcorn. That kid would stack firewood all day in the snow to earn a bag of popcorn. (He gets it from his Grammy.) It was like a switch turned on in his five-year-old brain and all of a sudden he needed a shovel and had to learn how to plant trees, like NOW. These people were not strangers anymore. They were kin to him.

As luck would have it there was a grandpa-like man in the group who didn’t seem to mind that my son, and by extension, his sister, began to gravitate his way.

Yup, it was Mr. Slade.

The man whose vehicle I just damaged took my kids around his pasture, looking for the best spots to plant trees, then digging holes, taking turns putting the trees into the holes and then covering them up. Tree after tree. Question after question. The kids followed Mr. Slade like they were puppies and he had the treats.

(“You have to stomp on the top carefully with your foot to push down the dirt, Mom,” my little tree planting expert confidently told me on the way home.)

My husband and I stood there and stared in awe. Our son doesn’t normally talk to people he doesn’t know. Heck, he barely talks to ones he does know a lot of the time. It was, and I can’t stress this enough, AMAZING.

So yes, I do need to fix Mr. Slade’s truck and that likely means getting him a new tail-light cover. But he gave my family something so much more important: genuine kindness and some real memories to last a lifetime. I’m not sure I can ever repay him for that.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Queen Margaret’s School in Duncan presents Christmas concert

Queen Margaret’s School students performed in their Christmas Concert on Dec. 5,… Continue reading

Sonia Furstenau column: Forestry workers, communities deserve long-term solutions

We know with the right policies and oversight, forestry can be a truly renewable industry.

Drivesmart column: What I’ve learned from a year of driver monitoring

Over all, I’m pleased that I have taken the time to use the app.

Quamichan Lake area a hot spot for bear sightings

WildSafeBC continues education programs for Valley residents

Robert Barron column: School bus rules should be respected

Motorists must NEVER pass a school bus with its stop lights flashing.

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Pacioretty scores 2, Golden Knights top Canucks 6-3

Vegas goalie Fleury gets win No. 452

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Most Read