Even now, as an adult, I find it hard not to believe that Anne Shirley is a real girl. Anne and I first met in my early teens, I think, and we became kindred spirits right away. I did think she talked an awful lot, though.
It was with a little trepidation that I visited the setting for the Anne books in Cavendish, PEI. Would my lovely imaginings of Marilla and Matthew's house be shattered? Would I be able to see the landscape with Anne's eyes? Would my understanding of Anne be enhanced or diminished?
The home that originally stood on this site in which is now part of Prince Edward Island's National Park belonged to relatives of Lucy Maud Montgomery and LMM visited the home frequently. That home was replaced with this replica of Anne's home as described in the novels.
In the above photo, Anne's bedroom is over the porch. An electric candle burns in the window - perhaps Anne is signalling to Diana that she has something important to say.
The natural world provided much inspiration for LMM, who loved her native island with a lifelong passion.
"In the garden below were lilac trees purple with flowers and
their dizzily sweet fragrance drifted up to the window on the morning wind." (Ch IV)
It was lovely to be there when the lilacs were blooming, just as they were on the first morning that Anne awoke in Green Gables and dreaded being sent away because she was not the boy the Cuthbert siblings had asked for.
This gnarled tree with a few blossoms is perhaps a model for Anne's beloved cherry tree, the Snow Queen, that was destroyed by wind.
I've not read the books for years but memories were triggered at every turn. Above is Anne's bedroom, less austere than her first glimpse of it. The white bed, the sprigged wallpaper, the little touches of plant and candle bear Anne's imprint.
Hanging on the closet door is the dress that Matthew had Mrs. Lynde sew, complete with double puffed sleeves.
"All I want is a dress with puffy sleeves."
"It is ever so much easier to be good if your clothes are fashionable."
The spare bedroom - perhaps one of Rachel Lynde's quilts is on the bed.
"Below the garden a green field lush with clover sloped down to the hollow where the brook ran and where scores of white birches grew, upspringing airily out of an undergrowth suggestive of delightful possibilities in ferns and mosses and woodsy things generally."
I visited the site with a friend named Ann, without an e; a lovely, kind soul who lives on PEI and encouraged me to take all the time I wanted. We wandered through the Haunted Woods and Lover's Lane. White birches, moss and ferns abound. Mosquitoes, too, and I don't recall reading anything about those pesky critters in the Anne books, do you?
This washstand is in Matthew's room, which is downstairs, unlike the other bedrooms. You can see a shaving brush there on the corner.
A dresser with beautiful dishes reminds me of the meals Anne helped prepare - usually with some calamity attached.
Details extend to geraniums on the kitchen windowsill - perhaps this one is named Bonny, just as Anne named the first geranium she saw there.
In the evening, Ann and I went to the Anne of Green Gables musical in Charlottetown. The season has barely begun and in fact, we saw it on a preview night. It was delightful. I laughed. I cried. Not everything was true to the novel, but that didn't really matter - the spirit of Anne was true. I left with my heart full of emotion. The visit to Green Gables and then the musical was a girlish dream come true.
Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith of Lavender Cottage Gardening.
All quotations are by Lucy Maud Montgomery.