Ben has acquired potassium nitrate, sulphur and charcoal to create homemade fireworks on the kitchen stove. He suffers second-degree burns over his face when the compound inadvertently explodes. He claims to be fine as he sits in Emergency shaking uncontrollably from pain and shock.
I arrive expecting to see my favourite tree, an ancient elm whose physical breadth is matched by its depth of character. I learn that the tree had been removed six years ago as it was hollow and a risk to visitors.
Ben and I are on the Rideau River Nature Trail, bicycling home. I follow behind but am distracted for the briefest moment. He is not there. He is crashing through the brush toward the river.