July 2011


Matthew picks Anne up from the train station

We spent the day today (7/29/11) at Avonlea Village. I expected it to just be a number of vignettes from the Anne of Green Gables series, but there are actually a number of historically accurate buildings as well.

One of the neat features of the Village is that each pass is actually for two days, so if you miss some of the vignettes or shows, you can catch them another day. They cover the major scenes from the Anne story: her first meeting with Matthew and Marilla, apologizing to Rachael Lind, smashing her slate on Gilbert’s head, getting Diana drunk, and Anne dying her hair green. Also, characters from the story walk the streets, work in different stores, and run games and dances for children.

In the middle of the vignettes, there are a number of musical productions, which feature performers from local Ceilidhs, and feature wonderful singing and dancing. There also is a square dance for both children and adults.

Historically, there are a number of buildings significant to L.M. Montgomery that have been moved here for audiences to see. They include the school house where she taught, the church she attended, and the manse she lived in. Additionally–and the coolest thing for me–they have a collection of her photographs, including places that were important to her, as well as family members, scenes, and buildings.

Montgomery's landscape collection

We had intended to attend a Ceilidh in the evening, but found out upon arrival that it was not free as we assumed. For those visitors planning to come to the island, the newspaper “The Buzz” tells all the events the island offers. We also got an insert of Ceilidhs, but some had costs listed, so we assumed the others were free–a wrong assumption, it turned out. But, the Preserve Company offers a free afternoon Ceilidh, so we are planning to check that out. New adventures tomorrow…

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L.M.Montgomery's birth recorded in the Family Bible


It started out a typical rainy, gray morning (7/28/11), so I decided to head into Charlottetown to check out the Lucy Maud Montgomery Institute. After I finally located the library on the UPEI campus (not a small feat!), I almost despaired of being able to see anything–I’ve visited prisons with less security. But, I was able to see photocopies of L.M. Montgomery’s scrapbooks: 7 volumes containing the newspaper and magazine clippings of her short stories and poems. It was overwhelming to say the least. I ended up reading a few here and there and choosing several I liked and thought I could illustrate. I began to despair of seeing anything else, when a Japanese student asked the guard (man on duty) about the institute. He said it is only open by appointment, but if she had a few minutes, he’d bring a few things out. I told him I’d be interested as well. It was definitely worth the wait.

Flyleaf of Further Chronicles of Avonlea explaining the lawsuit

First, he brought out a kimono given to Montgomery by an admirer who’d been to Japan. He also brought her OBE (Order of the British Empire) certificate and medallion and her original poem book. Once he started bringing things out, the librarian warmed up, and we were able to see a veritable tide of L.M. Montgomery items. We saw her family Bible, a letter she wrote a friend at 15 which included a written copy of her first published poem, early signed editions of Emily’s Quest and Anne of Green Gables. We also got to see a copy of Further Chronicles of Avonlea which was the subject of a lawsuit with her American publishers, who had published it without her permission.

Japanese illustrations of Green Gables

Finally, he brought out some other editions of Anne of Green Gables including many Japanese Editions, Italian, and Swedish published Arabic editions. One thing he pointed out was the amazing artistry in the Japanese edition. They actually took the time to visit the Island and capture the scenery, while the publishers from New York and Toronto (substantially closer) didn’t bother. In the end, he gave me his card and told me to contact him when I’m coming back and he can pull out a few more things to show me, so we’ll see how that goes.
After a late lunch, I got the girls dressed up and headed out to take some scenic shots with them, we started at Dalvay by the Sea and worked our way back in time for sunset on our own beach, which was quite nice. Tomorrow, I think we’re heading to Avonlea Village.

Catch the sun

A number of days here have begun rather drearily and cleared up, but today (7/27/11) was a rainy day. We took advantage of the opportunity to sleep in and catch up on a number things around the house. Then, we set out for the Fisherman’s Wharf which boasted a 60 foot salad bar and a number of seafood opportunities. We had a great lunch then drove around to take a few pictures with a gray sky. We took a few bay pictures, then went stopped to take some hay bales. I was looking for some illustrations to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s poem “In Haying Time,” which begins:

“Wide meadows under lucent skies
Lie open, free to sun and breeze,
Where bird and bee and rustling leaf
Blend all their air-born melodies
In one sweet symphony of sound
The lush green grasses bend and sway,
And fleet winds steal from new-mown slopes
The fragrance of the clover hay”

Haybales


We’ll have to take a few pictures of the hay on the ground, but didn’t see new plowed fields today.

Then, in the evening, we went to our second “Evenings with L.M. Montgomery at Bideford Museum. We read two of her short stories. The first was entitled “The Jest that Failed” from Tales of Correspondence. It tells the story of two freshmen girls who are trying to get a new girl to understand that she will never fit in with them, so they write a letter to her inviting to the prom with the most popular senior. When she responds that she’ll be delighted to attend, he is surprised, but chooses to go with her instead of humiliating her. So, instead of embarrassing the girl, the joke ends up making her the most popular girl at school.

In the second story, “Charlotte’s Ladies” found in Akin to Anne, a young orphan girl discovers gaps in the fence that shows her two ladies in their daily routines. One she christens “The Pretty Lady,” while the other is known as “The Tall Lady.” Eventually, she strikes up a relationship with both and both come to adopt her. The ladies turn out to be estranged sisters, and Charlotte is able to mend their relationship.

The thing I most enjoy about the “Evenings” is that the Hostess assigns parts to willing participants, and the stories read like a reader’s theatre. All of us had parts this evening, and I think it really makes the stories come to life. After the stories are finished, people discuss different points from it. One lady shared about having to take sulphur and molasses–a remedy that was mentioned in “Charlotte’s Ladies.” It was a fascinating evening.

As it was due to be a rainy day today (7/26/11), we opted to stay local and spend a lot of time typing out poetry and catching up on things. Before the rain started, however, we chose to walk up to the Cavendish Cemetery to see where Lucy Maud Montgomery was buried. There are actually other members of her family buried in that cemetery as well.

Grave of Montgomery's Mother and Grandparents

After we checked out the graves, we decided to walk up to the Cavendish Homestead again. I had learned that Montgomery’s relatives, John and Jennie Macneill still own the old place and are actually the ones who fixed up the entire homestead for people to come and learn the true history of L.M. Montgomery’s life. It turned out that the receptionist at the bookstore was the Macneill’s granddaughter and offered to call her grandparents to see if we could schedule an appointment. Instead, her grandmother decided to come over to meet with us.

Montgomery's grave

She gave us a tour of the bookstore with a great many details about her land. After sharing, she took us over to her house and allowed us an interview with her–a wonderful blessing. Her husband was a great-grandson of L.M. Montgomery’s Grandfather (His father was Maud’s first cousin), and he was born on the property. They still live in the house in which he was born. John remembered Maud coming to Sunday suppers, but he was a small boy, and she was an old lady, so he didn’t pay much attention to her.

Jennie Macneill with the Original Post Office Desk used by Montgomery at the Post Office

After a general discussion on L.M. Montgomery’s life and books, I asked her about the obstacles in their journey with this homestead. Jennie shared the major obstacle was changing the minds of the tourists who were set on the fiction of Green Gables being the true origins of L.M. Montgomery and unwilling to see the importance of “a hole in the ground.” I then asked about the funeral since she had mentioned in the presentation that she had attended. This is what she shared:

Macneill Homestead--John was born, and still lives, in the far right house

Both Jennie and John had been attending a one room school house across from the cemetery. Because of its location, the school would be cancelled every time there was a funeral (since recess during a funeral service would not give the appropriate atmosphere.) When Lucy Maud Montgomery died, the whole town felt the loss, since she was quite famous by then. Jennie’s father helped dig the grave in the Cavendish Cemetery, while her mother cleaned the church since a number of important dignitaries were expected for the service. Jennie told her mother that she wanted to attend the service. When her mother asked her why, she responded, “I’ve read her books, and I know her.” (She was eleven at the time.)

At the service, Jennie sat in a pew by the wall. The Rev. John Stirling performed the service. Jennie recalled him being very sad and his voice was shaking. He shared a story from one of Montgomery’s short stories, “Each in His Own Tongue,” which is from The Chronicles of Avonlea. The story is about a father forbidding to let his son play the fiddle and not realizing that was how he shared his feelings. She remembers being upset that he didn’t tell the story right, since it was one of her favorites. She considered going up and telling him to sit down so she could tell the story properly and he could expound on it afterwards, but she didn’t.

Jennie and John Macneill

She also remembered that Ewen Macdonald, Montgomery’s husband wasn’t well, and his sons kept taking him out. In those days, funerals were open casket, and she remembers Rev. Macdonald asking Mrs. Web (Macneill who owned the Green Gables property), “Who is the pretty lady in the casket?” She said he had suffered from bouts of “Religious Melancholy” which today might have been called being bipolar. Lucy tried to hide his condition and also put a great deal of stress upon herself by trying to be perfect at everything she did. Montgomery patterned Emily of New Moon after her own life experience.

It was such a blessing to meet with Jennie. (John was out working on their well which was having some problems.) I’d love to hear his stories as well, but that may be an adventure for another time.

Foxglove

Today (7/25/11), I attended Holland College’s Photography Boot camp. We started off with class, where we learned the basics for operating a camera manually instead of on smart capture. After that, we took a tour of the Island and got to apply our new skills. Here’s a sampling of the results. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, this is a lengthy post 🙂 Enjoy!

Water Lilies


dragonflies


Cavendish Beach



Lobster traps


Anchor and Rope


Kayaks


Flower boxes


Taking off

We began this morning attending the Baptist church in Cavendish. While I don’t believe it is the church Lucy Maud Montgomery attended, she did take a lot of pictures of it, so I will have to look for that connection.

Strawberry Festival

After lunch, we headed back to the Bideford Museum for the 12th Annual Strawberry Festival. They had a musical group playing music, strawberry shortcake with icecream and whipped cream for everyone with the price of admission, a flea market, and a number of games and competitions. My nieces entered a number of games and received prizes for everything they did well in. My mom and I entered the “Clothes Hanging Competition.” One of the local ladies had written a book called A Fine Line after interviewing hundreds of ladies on the proper way to hang clothes and what judgements they made about their neighbors due to the lines they hung. My mother and I took second and third place respectively. (Unfortunately, there were only 3 contestants, but we also got to take home prizes.)

The second place clothesline (Mom)

After that, we decided to take a trip down the West Coast of the Island. There are numerous beaches and wharfs to choose from. We began with Northport and headed all the way down to West Point, taking various detours along the beach. Finally, we got our dinner and sat and watched the sunset over the water. Though we got home at 11:00 at night, it was definitely worth waiting for!

Sunset on West Point Beach

Tomorrow, I’m off to photography boot camp.

Today (7/23/11) was a moving day. We didn’t have the availability we wanted for the whole three weeks, so we had to split our time between a motel and a cottage. Therefore, we spent much of the morning loading, unloading, and resettling.

After lunch, we decided to head to Charlottetown to check out where I will be attending photography boot camp on Monday. Holland College offers a variety of “boot camps” on many different points of interest. As I am here to do illustrated poetry, this one was a good choice for me. In Charlottetown, there are a number of attractions including the official Anne of Green Gables Store and Cows Ice Cream (Voted Number one in the World). We decided to try a sample of salted caramels at the Anne of Green Gable’s Store (AMAZING!) and some Cow’s ice cream. It was definitely delicious (We got Messie Bessie–Toffee bar, chocolate, and caramel–and Chocolate chunky mint.), but we don’t think it’s the best. Then, we got groceries. (Note to out of towners: Charlottetown has cheaper prices and better selections on groceries than the small towns.)

Initial view

When we got home, we decided to head down to the beach to get some good sunset pictures. It was the perfect sky with just the right amount of fluffy clouds to catch the light beautifully. We explored the beach, picked the perfect spot, and settled in to wait. As the light changed, we kept noticing different features in the sky and landscape.

I noticed the line of black clouds moving in. The patch of sunlight started to narrow, and I went to explore higher up to see if there was a better view. A women we had spoken to earlier walked by and commented, “I think you’re out of luck on the sunset.” I walked back down and the clouds we really moving in. My mom and I had the classic pre-storm conversation:

Still Hoping

Me: Man, that black cloud is heading our way.

Mom: No, it isn’t. The wind’s blowing that way, see. The sky’s light over there. Look at how clearly you can see the rocks underneath the water now.

Me: Neat! Look at those sea gulls. That’d be a cool picture. Man, those clouds are amazing. Whoa! The wind’s picking up.

Run for it!

About 10 seconds later the storm was overhead, complete with gale force winds, and I went from trying to see if the sea gulls would show up against the black cloud to praying, “Please let me get home before that lets loose!” (Since we had opted to walk down to the beach, we had about a half mile walk back amidst mist and swirling wind.)

Thankfully, I did make it home mostly dry and revived with a nice cup of hot chocolate, but I never got my sunset picture–or the cool sea gulls.

However, when we got home, mom read us the beginning of a poem by Lucy Maud Montgomery called “Before Storm.” In it, Montgomery captures so many of the images we saw tonight.

The first stanza goes like this:

There’s a grayness over the harbor like fear on the face of a woman,
The sob of the waves has a sound akin to a woman’s cry,
And the deeps beyond the bar are moaning with evil presage
Of a storm that will leap from its lair in that dour north-eastern sky …

I think that about sums it up.

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