Coco and I recently finished reading Anne of Green Gables as well as watching the Netflix series “Anne with an E.” We are both officially hooked. The setting, Prince Edward Island, inspires this narrative piece that Coco wrote for her English class. (School continues to be AWESOME, by the way.). This piece is fiction (thank goodness – the mother is recently deceased!) which has always seemed very challenging for her. We have never been to Prince Edward Island, so Coco relied on her understanding from the book as well as some YouTube tourism videos. I hope we can visit there someday! I’m no longer putting Coco’s words into all caps because for school assignments she must punctuate. We do this by placing small post-it’s, as needed, on the letter board.
In Anne’s Shadow
Covering the field like a green blanket, the clover burst out as a harbinger of summer. Every inch was misted with sparkling ethereal dew drops. High summer was weeks away. The air was pregnant with promise. The mayflowers danced like the souls of flowers that died in the fall.
I booked my trip before knowing what summer was like here. All that drove my impulsive choice only came down to wanderlust and an obsession with Anne of Green Gables. I couldn’t imagine not being happy on Prince Edward Island. In the spirit of my fictional guide I went.
No place I’ve been to inspires poetry in the same way. It gives my needy soul nourishment to follow in the footsteps of my heroine. Light from the sun reflects off the dew before me and turns on my senses like a light switch. I am learning not only the undulating rhythm of the waves but also the ebb and flow of the herds that dot the hills and fields of this island. I’m alive here.
Six months ago I lost the only mother I ever knew. Having started life as an orphan I found myself in that unenviable position once more. Having always taken comfort and consolation from the great literary orphans, Harry, Oliver, Dorothy; my elusive happiness could only be found in the land where the greatest orphan found hers, Prince Edward Island. My heartbeat raced faster than my rental car as I sped along the eight mile bridge that connects the island to the mainland. I hoped my impulsive journey left my heart healed.
The first stop in my great journey was the hotel to check in. I had booked a little cottage villa overlooking the bay. Having settled in I headed out to see the home of Anne’s creator, Lucy Maud Montgomery. It was a Monday so the place was quiet. I was greeted by an elderly park ranger whose name tag said “Shirley.” I had to ask,
“Is that for Anne Shirley?”
“My mother was a fan,” she replied, “aren’t we all?”
It was in that moment that I realized I’m not so special.
Being a fan who identifies with a character doesn’t give my life more meaning. But it does illustrate the power of great literature. In all the great characters we find ourselves. For me it’s how I make sense of the events of my life. All of the things that have happened to me have happened to others. I can process the events of my life through the authors’ words. Montgomery’s words only resonate louder in my heart.
This place is everything I dreamed it would be. But I realized standing there with Shirley before the real Green Gables. Anyplace I go, I will find myself there. It’s cliche perhaps, but it took me driving to Canada to understand this.
I enjoyed a wonderful week on Prince Edward Island. I swam in the frigid North Atlantic. I ate salmon and lots of ice cream. I bought souvenirs. But mostly I thought of my mothers, the one I just lost and the one I never knew. This is not their place but it is the place where I said thank you and goodbye to them. Then I headed back over that bridge to the mainland.