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Back To My Childhood – Anne Of Green Gables

Back to my Childhood – Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables, Cavendish

Anne of Green Gables on site, Cavendish, PEI

September 1nd, 2016

From Campbell's Cove to Cavendish

Departing from beautiful Campbell’s Cove and my little blue cabin, it still was a substantial drive to Cavendish.

On the way I passed by Greenwich National Park. Birds were perched in ponds and waterways on both sides of the road. All I could do, though,  was take a peek and a pic, hoping one day return to the island.

Somehow the way things were set, I still needed to pay a partial fee for the National Park Authority for just driving through…Great Canadian Soap Co., Brackley Beach, PEI

Getting tempted, I stopped at the “Great Canadian Soap Co., Handcrafted Goat Soaps” store in a place called Oyster Bed. I bought my daughters design soaps with birds and teddy bears engraved on them. It was fun and hard to pick the best with so many great options. I also got myself goat ice-cream, but that was a much less satisfactory experience…

Anne of Green Gables

In Cavendish I had to ask for directions since I did not know what to feed the GPS. No problem, everybody was familiar with it.

The place itself was full. As usual for tourist hot spots, there were many Asians, mostly Chinese. It appears Canada has a large contingent of Chinese studying or settling there. Again, the low number of Europeans and other foreign tourists was noticeable.

LM Montgomery's scrap book, Green Gables, Cavendish

Montgomery’s scrap book…What a nice North American custom. So much dedication and attention to detail.

  Lucy Maude Montgomery in her youth, Green Gables, Cavendish   The older LMM, Green Gables, Cavendish museum

Lucy Maude Montgomery at two different periods in her life. You can still see the youthful spirit behind the glasses…

It has always seemed to me that behind all the commonplaces of life, I was very near to a kingdom of ideal beauty. Between it and me hung only a thin veil”

Lucy Maude Montgomery

I spent the afternoon in the Green Gables ranch, and saw the remnants of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s house. It was magical. I, of course, took pictures everywhere and of everything, walked the “Lovers’ Lane”, tried a sour apple…

  Lovers' Lane, sepia, Green Gables, Cavendish   Lovers' Lane, color, Green Gables, Cavendish, PEI

Lover’s Lane

It’s interesting what leaves memorable impressions. There was a beautiful Chinese tourist dressed almost “period” with an under-the-knee flowing skirt and a wide-rimmed colorful hat. I asked her if I could take her pic and she very willingly posed, but when I asked if she had read the book in Chinese, she said no.

That should not have surprised me. When I later recounted this story to my host’s family in Maine, silence prevailed. Nobody in the family had read the book either. I learned that many people, my generation included, were not familiar with children’s classics, unless they were made into TV series or movies, like Winnie the Pooh. Well, even without being acquainted with the book, the Chinese woman sure captured the spirit of the place.

Chinese girl posing on Lovers Lane, Green Gables, Cavendish

As to myself, I was a bit apprehensive at first whether the site would be on par with my dreams. Luckily, I was not disappointed. Notwithstanding the commercial setup and the crowds, the charm of Anne’s (Maud’s) imagination and dreams kept shining through, transforming this piece of land, partially natural, partially human, into  sacred land. Oftentimes an interaction between humanity and Nature can bring about wondrous outcomes.

So Green Gables, Cavendish, was discovered to not be the site where Montgomery herself grew up, but that of her grandparents’ cousins. The brother and sister, after whom she modeled Mati and Marilla, provided her with the perfect childhood environment to play and socialize. Even though Maude was not a %100 orphan, in practice she grew up as if she were. Following her mother’s death, the infant Lucy was handed over to her grandparents. Men in that period probably did not even consider raising a kid by themselves, especially not a girl.

Cavendish, PEI. In this election season, when the United States is spewing out all the puss, corruption and hatred that has been evolving in its midst, this look back on life in an agrarian Canadian island just a 100 years ago is so refreshing, yet, unfortunately, almost surreal.

The Green Gables compound itself is an immersion in the down-to-the-good-earth atmosphere. The house museum captures the “feel” with “Matthew’s” and “Marilla”’s austere clothing thrown on the chairs or the beds, confirming to us that, indeed, people lived that way, all buttoned up, tucked in, ethical the way ethics was understood then.

Placards on the walls show pictures from village life – apple picking, harvesting, working together. Values of self-sufficiency, modesty, simplicity, hard work, companionship.

Quotes from Montgomery demonstrate her humor, gratitude, and her optimistic, positive outlook on this life. During this election season, when the United States is spewing out all the puss, corruption and hatred that has been evolving in its midst, this look back on life in an agrarian Canadian island just a 100 years ago is so refreshing, yet, unfortunately, almost surreal.

Lucy Maude Montgomery's grandparents, Green Gables, Cavendish Grandma and grandpa

  Sewing room, Green Gables, Cavendish  Simplicity and austerity, Green Gables, Cavendish

Austerity in Paradise. Seems like the earlier people to colonize America were either the greediest of all or, conversely, the most humble and chaste. That dichotomy still affects the human panorma today.

  Stove, Green Gables, Cavendish Kitchen, Green Gables, Cavendish,

Bedroom, Cavendish, Green Gables, Cavendish museum

Bedroom, Green Gables, Cavendish

Ah, my childhood of Green Gables, the Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh, Little Women, Pipi Longstocking and the travels of Neils Holgerson on the back of his goose… So far away from here I was dreaming of these ponds, these woods, those orchards, of red-headed girls in braids sitting in one-classroom schools…

The book characters became an integral part of who I was as a kid in then-Jerusalem – heavy stone houses, dark pine trees, cyclamens, anemones growing around an old British Pillbox. A city divided by borders and ancient hatreds. Its “other part”, across the Jordanian border, was beckoning the mystery of narrow alleys, donkeys trotting steep desert paths, villages built into Biblical mountain flanks. A far-away Muezzin’s voice could be heard calling to prayer … but a part of me was here, right here, in this small Canadian village, with Anne…

Brook, Green Gables grounds, Cavendish

A brook was laughing to itself in the hollow. Brooks are always in good spirits. They never do anything but laugh. It is infectious to hear them, those gay vagabonds of the valleys…

Lucy Maude Montgomery

Ah, literature of the soul…

“I had always a deep love of nature. A little fern growing in the woods, a shallow sheet of June-bells under the firs, moonlight falling on the ivory column of a tall birch… all gave me…feelings which I had then no vocabulary to express.” (LMM)

Lucy Maude Montgomery

Magical corner with brook at Green Gables, Cavendish

 C:\Users\Orit\Pictures\US-Canada trip 2016\Canada - first trip\PEI\Green Gables\IMG_4708.JPG    Milk bottle still keeping cool... Green Gables, Cavensih, PEI

I could have stayed there for days, but I also wanted to see Montgomery’s grandparents’ house before leaving the island. On the way out, at the farm’s arcaded lobby, there was a surprise! Anne of Green Gables herself in her very red braids was making arts and crafts with children visitors, posing for pictures and answering questions…

Anne of Green Gables on site, Cavendish, PEI

   Anne of Green Gables helping girl in Cavendish museum, PEI   Arts and crafts with Anne of Green Gables, Cavendish

The Grounds were very well reconstructed and looked “authentic”.

    Reconstructed yard with carriage, Green Gables, Cavendish  Costumed interpreter at Green Gables gounds, Cavendish

Heritage Site

From Green Gables I rushed to Anne’s grandparents estate, where the young Maude actually lived. (A discounted ticket covered both sites).

I expected to see a proper mansion, but the only thing I saw was a small gift shop. I asked for directions from a lady, who was climbing  the stairs of the only visible house on the compound. She clearly had enough of tourists, and motioned me with a swift wave of her hand to the souvenir shop. The saleslady explained that the house was simply no more, a ruined foundation indicated its location. The thing to do here was then to walk down the garden and the abandoned orchard, where the magical (but very sour) apples were falling freely to the ground…

I consider it a misfortune to love a place as I like the old homestead. The agony of parting from it is intolerable.

Lucy Maude Montgomery

One of Anne's magical apple trees, Cavendish

The church, Cavendish          At LM Montgomery's heritage site

Flower bed at Cavendish Heritage Site, PEI

  Apples strewn on ground at Cavendish Heritage Site, PEI  Apples strewn on ground at Cavendish Heritage Site, PEI

The tomb of LM Montgomery's childhood house

It is still farmland, Cavendish

Beauty of surrounding area, Cavendish

In the end I could not resist the temptation and bought myself an Anne of Green Gables hardback, the first of the series. I would have bought the whole set, but there are weight limitations on airplane cargo. So now I had a trace of the magic to take home with me, stamped with the official Green Gables emblem…

Confederation Bridge - Leaving PEI

Islands are unique in many ways. Unless you are a hidden passenger on a pirate boat, or an Olympic distance swimmer, you can’t just get out of them undetected. That’s why they usually make you pay just once, either on the entry or the exit. This is especially true if there is only one ferry company that services the island.

Here on PEI, the arrangement was even more interesting. If you came back on the same ferry you arrived with, you would pay on the way back for both passages, but if, as I did, you travelled around the island and left on the bridge, you paid a lesser fee for the bridge toll (40 something CAD rather than 70 on the ferry).

The bridge is an engineering masterpiece called the Confederation Bridge, and connects PEI with Nova Scotia. This was the longest bridge I ever drove. The experience was a bit hairy, but also exhilarating, a thrill lasting 12.9 km …

I tend to get excited by great engineering projects, military aircraft, skyscrapers, never failing to be filled with awe at the achievements of the male sector of our species…

Bye, Bye, childhood. I’m back on my way.

Next stop: Shediac, NB.

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