Issue: July 2019
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Next deadline: August 29


Written by
Published on January 2018

Maple trees, here I come.  I must admit at the time, to my shame, I did not know a Maple if I had fallen over it.   

My friend Dave Williams volunteered to give me a tutorial on the vagaries of tapping the Maple.  So, with borrowed brace and a suitable sized bit and my bucket, we two intrepid potential sap-tappers sallied forth up a lane past the post office, as it was then, and further past Dave's home out into the wilds, as I thought.  Dave pointed out the distinctive Maple and one was selected.  Well, I'm sure the rest of you folks already know.  I did not realize that this was to be a waiting game.  After the tree was drilled and my spout inserted and bucket hung up, we retraced our steps with a date made for next day to collect the fruits of our labour.  Next day we met up to check my bucket and I was thrilled to find that it was about a third full, changing it over for a spare bucket which Glen had given me.  After two sessions of tapping, Gladys decided that I could move to the next part of my education by putting it all in one bucket, putting it on the stove and laboriously stirring it until it changed to thick syrup.  My very own Maple Syrup!  I was over the moon with my achievement.  If anyone had told me this, crossing the Atlantic on SS Anselm only months before, I would have thought of it as a fairy tale.  My syrup spread onto some new biscuits that Gladys had made.....Ummm I really felt clever.  As the Maple tapping heralded the Autumn and the coming Winter weather and snow like I would have never seen before, one of Uncle George's men made me a small diamond shaped wooden snow plough which I would be able to pull.  I was assigned the task of keeping the driveway clear for the car and around the gasoline pump for Uncle George where I continued to fill up his car most days.  I must admit I greatly underestimated the depth of the snow to come when a wooden shovel was more appropriate.  When the plow was finished the same man started to make me a three-seater bob sleigh which could be steered.  I helped by polishing the runners and screwing some joints here and there.  When it was finished it was the envy of my pals.  I couldn't wait for the snow to try it out. 

It was about that time that a highway truck came along from the municipality loaded with piles and piles of timber about 6 foot by 4 inches and painted red at one end.  They were unloaded at intervals and drove them into each side of the road.  Being very curious I asked one of the men what they were for.  He smiled and said, "I'll bet you're the young fella from the old country".  As I concurred he explained to me the use for the posts.  "They are markers to indicate to folks where the edge of the road is when the snow comes."  I smiled in disbelief.  "Surely the snow won't be that high!"  "You'll see, buddy", was his response.  "When it does it will be at least one day off school".  I still felt that he was pulling my leg, but I was in for a big surprise later on. 

All Hallows Eve came along which was something else new to Bessie and I but our school friends soon initiated us into the mischievous tricks of goblins and naughty spirits and dressing up to frighten the local folks if they did not ply us with sweets and small gifts.  Some of the older boys went a little too far.  For example - Uncle George had a buckboard or buggy (not sure of the difference) which was housed in sort of a lean-to just across the road from the house.  Well, it vanished in the night and was found next day a mile or so away in a neighbour's garden who rung up Uncle George to tell him it was in his garden.  I and two other goblins played a trick on Aunt Allie (who was not amused) by transferring her washing from the back line to the flag pole in front of the house.  Poor Gladys had the job of getting it down. 

Soon it would be Christmas and one of the men brought a lovely big tree for the lounge where Carol, Bessie and I decorated it under guidance from Aunt Allie. Uncle George asked me what I would like for Christmas.  I chose a bee bee air rifle.  Thereby hangs a tale revealed later.  I can't remember when we had the first snow, but when it came I was more disappointed.  It was only about two inches deep.  What a let down!  No need for road markers, I conjectured.  Bessie and I were told not to play with this fall of snow as it contained atmospheric dirt and the like.  I was never sure if folks were not pulling my leg over this, not even today. 

The lake at the back of the house was frozen over but again, we were warned not to venture out onto it until the all clear was given by one of the Uniacke worthies who apparently tested the ice thickness by chopping a hole near the centre to ensure it was at least one foot before going on it. 

As Christmas drew nearer we became excited as this would be our first one in the New World and everyone appeared to be making preparations for this festive occasion.  Rumours were around that there would be festivities in the hall with the appearance of special guests.  Little Bessie and I realized that they meant her and me.  Special, never, but we were to the local folks who had taken us to their hearts.  

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