“When you’ve learned to laugh at the things that should be laughed at, and not to laugh at those that shouldn’t, you’ve got wisdom and understanding.” Anne of the Island
If you've never heard of Anne Shirley or Green Gables, then this blog won't mean much to you. But, if you are one of the 50 million people who have read Anne of Green Gables or watched the four feature films, six stage productions, seven TV series or thirteen TV movies, then you will understand. Visiting Green Gables is for Anne-fans like visiting Hobbiton is for Lord of the Rings fans.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Anne of Green Gables is a 1908 novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery (published as L. M. Montgomery). Written for all ages, it has been considered a classic children's novel since the mid-twentieth century. Set in the late 19th century, the novel recounts the adventures of Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan girl who is mistakenly sent to Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a middle-aged brother and sister who had intended to adopt a boy to help them on their farm in the fictional town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. The novel recounts how Anne makes her way with the Cuthberts, in school, and within the town.
While the characters are fictional, L.M. Montgomery drew on her experience growing up in the small farming community of Cavendish. The house that inspired Green Gables belonged to cousins of her grandfather. Montgomery visited the farm as a young girl and based on it the location of her best-selling Anne series of books on the Green Gables farm. She drew romantic inspiration from the house, as well as the surrounding area, including the "Haunted Woods", "Lovers' Lane", and "Balsam Hollow."
Kathy is eager to begin the self-guided tour.
~~~"Anne, you certainly have a genius for getting into trouble. You went and gave Diana currant wine instead of raspberry cordial. Didn't you know the difference yourself?"
~~~The pantry, home of the famous raspberry cordial. Note the butter churn in the corner.
~~~"But it was morning and, yes, it was a cherry-tree in full bloom outside of her window. With a bound she was out of bed and across the floor. She pushed up the sash--it went up stiffly and creakily, as if it hadn't been opened for a long time, which was the case; and it stuck so tight that nothing was needed to hold it up.
"Anne dropped on her knees and gazed out into the June morning, her eyes glistening with delight. Oh, wasn't it beautiful? Wasn't it a lovely place? Suppose she wasn't really going to stay here! She would imagine she was. There was scope for imagination here."
As you look into Anne's bedroom, you can just imagine her pushing up the sash!
~~~"Spring had come once more to Green Gables--the beautiful capricious, reluctant Canadian spring, lingering along through April and May in a succession of sweet, fresh, chilly days, with pink sunsets and miracles of resurrection and growth. The maples in Lover's Lane were red budded and little curly ferns pushed up around the Dryad's Bubble. Away up in the barrens, behind Mr. Silas Sloane's place, the Mayflowers blossomed out, pink and white stars of sweetness under their brown leaves. All the school girls and boys had one golden afternoon gathering them, coming home in the clear, echoing twilight with arms and baskets full of flowery spoil."
While not quite the Spring day we were hoping for, the rain did let up for a while giving us a chance to walk through the Haunted Woods. Kathy seems unaware of the terrors that awaits her!
“A haunted wood is so very romantic, Marilla. We chose the spruce grove because it’s so gloomy. Oh, we have imagined the most harrowing things. There’s a white lady walks along the brook just about this time of the night and wrings her hands and utters wailing cries. She appears when there is to be a death in the family. And the ghost of a little murdered child haunts the corner up by Idlewild; it creeps up behind you and lays its cold fingers on your hand—so. Oh, Marilla, it gives me a shudder to think of it.
"And there’s a headless man stalks up and down the path and skeletons glower at you between the boughs. Oh, Marilla, I wouldn’t go through the Haunted Wood after dark now for anything. I’d be sure that white things would reach out from behind the trees and grab me.” listened in dumb amazement. “Anne Shirley, do you mean to tell me you believe all that wicked nonsense of your own imagination?” “Not believe EXACTLY,” faltered Anne. “At least, I don’t believe it in daylight. But after dark, Marilla, it’s different. That is when ghosts walk.”
"Lover's Lane opened out below the orchard at Green Gables and stretched far up into the woods to the end of the Cuthbert farm. It was the way by which the cows were taken to the back pasture and the wood hauled home in winter. Anne had named it Lover's Lane before she had been a month at Green Gables.
"Not that lovers ever really walk there," she explained to Marilla, "but Diana and I are reading a perfectly magnificent book and there's a Lover's Lane in it. So we want to have one, too. And it's a very pretty name, don't you think? So romantic! We can't imagine the lovers into it, you know. I like that lane because you can think out loud there without people calling you crazy."
~~~Well, at least for today there were two lovers on Lover's Lane, as we strolled hand in hand sharing our thoughts out loud.
~~~“Oh, it's delightful to have ambitions. I'm so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them-- that's the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables