Monday, 4 July 2016

Prince Edward Island

I'm a big fan of Anne of Green Gables.  I remember when I was about 9 or 10 our family was at a Scholastic book fair at our school, and we were each allowed to buy one book.  I had narrowed it down to two -- Anne of Green Gables and something else.  I was just about to choose the something else when my mom said, "You should get Anne.  You'll like it."  Very wisely I took her advice, and of course she was completely right.  I loved Anne right away and have read all the Anne books many times.

About six years ago I found out the University of Prince Edward Island houses the L.M. Montgomery Institute and they have a conference every other year.  So I started looking for a year in which I could submit a paper.  Last summer my friend Kiera Ball, who is an adjunct English professor at USF, suggested we propose a paper together for this summer's conference.  We did, the paper was accepted, and so off we went to PEI just a couple of weeks ago.  The paper we presented was called "Orgies of Love-Making: Female Romantic Friendship in the Work of L.M. Montgomery."  We argued that in the Anne books, Montgomery flips the almost exclusively male community envisioned by Augustine and creates an almost exclusively female vision of community.

I knew I would like the island, and I knew I would think it was pretty, and I knew I'd enjoy the Anne stuff.  But I was amazed at how beautiful it is!  Montgomery described it as the sapphire, ruby, and emerald island, and that seems just about right.  It's full of colors, all rich and intense, and landscapes juxtaposed against each other which normally aren't.  The roads and the beaches are red, but the sand is sugar fine and soft.  The wild flowers are everywhere, and the sea food is fantastic!  We had a great time.

Charlottetown -- the main town on the island and the home of Queens College in the books.

The harbor in Charlottetown.  The water was incredibly clear.

These beautiful houses lined the harbor.

Kiera finishing her icecream cone.

The town was full of things named "Eden", which, given the setting, made sense.  We didn't stay here, but we wished we had.

Charlottetown Harbor.

There were jellyfish in the harbor.

Jellyfish, and a cloud reflected in the water.

We didn't know what this was a statue of, but we figured it was Captain Jim looking for Lost Margaret.

It looks like Kiera is playing Margaret's role here.

The beaches in the national park were beautiful, with soft, red, sand and water warm enough to swim in.  The really amazing feature of the beaches is that they were dotted with fresh water streams flowing from inland to the ocean.  A perfect playground.

We were at the beach on a Sunday and this is how many people were there.

A fresh water stream full of minnows, winding its way to the ocean.

A little place to change and have some lunch.

We at lunch here and had a great lobster roll.

Green Gables!  This house belonged to relatives of Montgomery (she lived with her grandparents), but apparently she was often here to play, and this is the house upon which she based Green Gables.

Matthew's room

The kitchen

Anne's room

Lover's Lane

The babbling brook.

Given the topic of our paper, we decided it was appropriate to be on Lover's Lane with each other rather than our husbands.

This beach is also in the National Park, but much closer to Green Gables.  Like the other beach, it had these gorgeous streams cutting across the beach, but this beach was rockier (big rocks), and looked more like the description of the "rock shore" in Anne's House of Dreams.

"'I'm going for a walk to the outside shore tonight,' Anne told Gog and Magog one October evening.  She loved the gentle, misty harbour shore and the silvery, wind-haunted sand shore, but best of all she loved the rock shore, with its cliffs and caves and piles of surf-worn boulders, and its coves where the pebbles glittered under the pools; and it was to this shore she hied herself tonight. . . . She scrambled down the steep path to the little cove below, where she seemed shut in with rocks and sea and sky.  'I'm going to dance and sing,' she said.  'There's no one here to see me -- the sea gulls won't carry tales of the  matter.  I may be as crazy as I like.'  She caught up her skirt and pirouetted along the hard strip of sand just out of reach of the waves that almost lapped her feet with their spent foam.  Whirling round and round, laughing like a child, she reached the little headland that ran out to the east if the cove; then she stopped suddenly, blushing crimson; she was not alone; there had been a witness to her dance and laughter.  The girl of the golden hair and sea-blue eyes was sitting on a boulder of the headland, half-hidden by a jutting rock."  (Anne's House of Dreams)

The tide was out and exposed this big rock covered in some kind of vibrant green sea grass.

We imagined Captain Jim's lighthouse on that point.

The rock shore, with its cliffs and caves.

Piles of surf-worn boulders.

The salt made beautiful patterns on the rocks.

All the snails had little plants growing on their shells.

A surf-worn boulder.

The water cut a canal in this rock.