I grew up in Toronto, Canada. One day the fire trucks came to my house. It was every little boy’s dream. Well almost.

I was six years old. It was a late fall afternoon, and I decided to rake the leaves in the backyard. I had made the plan on the way home from school. I wanted to surprise my father. After completing the task, I decided to burn them. That’s what my father did. The problem was the leaves were in the middle of the lawn and were blowing. So I moved them against the garage, which thankfully was not attached to the house, and lit the match. Half an hour later the fire trucks arrived.

My mother quickly sent her three children to a neighbor’s house where the woman proceeded to lecture me in no uncertain terms. After the fire trucks left a garage that had burned to the ground, we were returned to our house, and my mother sent me to my room to await my father.

The wait was interminable. It seemed to go on forever as I stared at the baseball players covering the wall and the airplanes dangling from the ceiling. Finally, maybe two hours after being sent to a sanctuary that had turned into a prison, there was a gentle knock on the door. I was terrified.

The first thing my father did as he entered the room was to thank me for raking the leaves. He then told me the garage was not much of an asset to the house. We can plant a garden there next spring. What we really need is a new car, and the insurance money from the garage will cover that nicely. As he sat down on the bed and gathered me into his arms, he told me that I would be the first person to ride in the car if I promised never again to light a fire without him being present. Three weeks later he arrived home with the new car and took me out for an ice cream cone.

Thanks, Dad. I sure do miss you.

Rick Herrick lives in Oak Bluffs and writes the East Chop column for the Gazette.