Hosted by Carr Farms, 4833 Longwoods Rd., Appin, Southwest Middlesex, Ontario
Painted by the Taits Corners Community Centre
My name is Susannah Reynolds and I am six years old. I love to watch the geese fly over in the fall. They are so noisy I hear them long before I see them fly over the tree tops. I think they are playing Follow the Leader like I do with my sisters.
Father watches the geese too and we talk about the delicious roast goose we ate last fall. Sometimes I think Father is angry with the geese. He says that every year it’s a race. ‘Who will harvest the corn first? Father, the deer, the coons or the geese?’
Father explains that the geese know that winter is coming and so they fly to a warmer place. I remember all the work last fall getting ready for winter: taking the wheat and corn to Uncle Chris Arnold’s mill for grinding into flour. Chopping wood. Drying apples, berries, meat. Storing vegetables. So much food I didn’t think we could fit it into our small log home.
But by spring most of it was gone and many days we just ate cornmeal mush. We girls had fun playing in the snow but some days it was too cold to go outside and even our food froze inside the cabin. Many people get sick in the winter. It is so hard to get our outdoor chores done let alone go for help, medicine or supplies.
At the beginning of the war it was exciting to watch all the people pass by on the river, especially the Indian warriors. But each day more and more passed. Father said there were thousands. They looked so sad. Families with children, soldiers, prisoners and wounded. Some stopped for food and shelter.
Many tried to pay with whatever they had but most had nothing left to give. Mother cautioned us girls to stay close because some of the people were not nice. We watched our possessions carefully so that none would go missing.
Some time after Uncle Christopher’s Indian friend Tecumseh died in October at the big battle, things slowed down and I hoped we could go back to our old way of life. But I knew that was impossible.
“Winter will be different this year,” Father says and although he does not explain, at night I hear my parents’ anxious whispers, Mother crying. We once had fields of corn, gardens, chickens, geese, pigs, a cow, a pair of oxen — all are gone. We cannot even find a cob of corn. It makes me think of that story in the Bible about the locusts that ate everything.
All the people have destroyed our farm. They even burned the fence rails that Father worked so hard to make. We have nothing left. Yes, winter will be different this year. I wish I was a goose. I would fly to a better place.
Written by Chris Crawford, February 2012
Source: When Chatham Was Woods, Reminiscences of the Pioneers by John Rhodes