This morning started with snuggles and giggles with my littlest before my feet even hit the floor…as all good summer Saturdays should in my opinion. Over our usual weekend breakfast of blueberry pancakes we brainstormed about what we could do with this gift of a hot summer day and settled on a picnic lunch and visit to Green Gables. We were going to try to squeeze in a look at the sandcastle competition at Cavendish Beach later this afternoon, but the rain started before we could get there. No one was too disappointed though since we had such a glorious time at Green Gables.
On our recent road trip to Montreal we listened to the audiobook of Anne of Green Gables (all 9 hours and 31 minutes of it…boy, it’s a long one!). Obviously growing up in “Anne’s land” our girls are familiar with the red haired, freckle-faced character, but this was their first real in-depth introduction to the story. They fell in love with it, with her! Then we watched the movie together for family night this week. So the next logical Anne inspired activity was to tour Green Gables.
Their visit to Green Gables today was that much sweeter with all the rich details of the story so fresh in their minds. We saw Anne’s cracked slate and puffed sleeve dress hanging in her room, Marilla’s amethyst brooch sitting on her dresser, not to mention the bottle of raspberry cordial on the kitchen shelf. It was also pretty neat to see an original copy of The Island Hymn in L. M. Montgomery’s own handwriting. (It was one of our folksongs we learned in our homeschool this year.) And no visit to Green Gables is complete without a walk through the Haunted Wood and a stroll down Lover’s Lane. Boo was nearly beside herself as we walked the 1km Balsam Hollow Trail (which is indeed breathtaking as it winds along the banks of a babbling brook lined with lush ferns and moss). She just couldn’t keep from smiling and exclaiming, “Oh, Mommy, I will ALWAYS remember this!” I will too!
After we finished our picnic lunch, Anne came over to invite the kids to play some games with her and Ruby Gillis. The next hour was filled with potato sack races, wheelbarrow races, games of “hot potato”, “duck-duck-goose”, and “what time is it Mr. Wolf.” The girls had so much fun. It is a day they will treasure.
Boo wasn’t the only one who got a little emotional today. My eyes always water when we watch the video in the visitor reception centre. There is just something so touching about the way Lucy Maud Montgomery penned her feelings about this Island. She missed it desperately after moving to Ontario following her marriage, and she wrote the following words during a visit to PEI twenty years later:
“Oh, my Island is matchless—matchless. I feel that I did some violence to my spirit in leaving it. I belong here. It is mine—I am its own. It is in my blood. There is a part of me that lives only here.”
My heart echoes her reflections. This place is a part of me. So is Anne. I know some islanders probably get tired of Anne and all the commercialization around her story, but she has held a very special place in my heart for many years. When I was about the age my oldest daughter is now, I auditioned with a Japanese film crew and got the part of young Anne. It was an amazing experience…to play Anne in a movie, to have my picture in the accompanying book and my face on a bookmark. For an imaginative eleven year old girl it was a dreamy time and an experience that stayed with me, shaping a part of who I am. My kids have seen pictures and heard stories of my summer as Anne, but they have yet to see the video. That might have to be our next activity in our Anne adventures this summer. I need to get it from VHS to DVD first though. Remember, this was awhile ago. We’re talking almost 30 years! Ok, I guess now that I do the math, it’s more than just “awhile”. Phew! I’m feeling my age now…and maybe another emotional moment coming on.
Lastly, if our budget can handle it this summer, we would really like to take the girls to see Anne of Green Gables The Musical. It is the longest running annual musical theatre production according to Guinness World Records. This is its 52nd season. And it is incredibly good! PJ and I haven’t seen it since the summer we met…18 years ago. (Great, some more math to make me gasp.)
There are many days I sigh over the fact that our budget just doesn’t stretch enough to travel to the many sights around this globe that we want our family of six to visit. But it’s days like that that I need to remind myself that there are gems in our own neck of the woods. The adventures we had today are likely on someone else’s wish list, out of reach for some other family’s budget. And maybe they’ll visit the Grand Canyon or the Louvre or take a tour of the Tower of London instead. You gotta do what you can with what you have! And right now we have access to all things Anne so let “the summer of Anne” continue!