“The woods, barren of leaves, wrapped themselves around the house like a worn and frayed mother.”(page 12 of Emma Field, Book One).
While Caleb and the men of the district cleared the land that sloped to Trout Creek, they left a stand of 2 acres of sugar maples immediately to the west and the north-west of the house built in 1840. To this day that woods provides a wind-break against the prevailing winds. It is possible to stand in the still air on the porch of the house and see the tree-tops in the distance swaying to-and-fro.
The woods provided the family until 1927 with a source of sweetness in the form of maple syrup and maple sugar. Then, during the Second World War when sugar was rationed, the sap shanty was used for another six years. About 1977 my brothers bought used buckets and spiles and boiled for a number of years. Now my nephew proudly bottles the amber sweetness under his own label, “Justin’s Maple Syrup”.
The woods have also long been a magical place for many of the neighbourhood children (and cousins!) to play and build forts.
Thanks to The Great Lakes for moderating the temperatures enough to make the sap flow consistently and thanks to the early Williams family for leaving the mighty maples in place for future generations to enjoy!
“Snow was smacking like little kisses against the schoolhouse window…” (page 15 of Emma Field, Book One).
A log school-house was also built to the east of the Williams house. Caleb served as a trustee for the school.