August 4th was Natal Day in Nova Scotia, and as we had a long weekend, three of my sisters and I packed up and went camping on Prince Edward Island. For Nova Scotians, P.E.I. is a great destination if you only have three days: close enough that the travel time isn't prohibitive, yet far enough away that you actually are getting away. It's a pretty easy trip, especially since the Confederation Bridge opened in 1997, which spans eight miles of open sea between New Brunswick and P.E.I. Back in the day, the only way on and off the Island was by ferry, which takes a lot longer. The bridge is certainly more convenient, but truth be told, I still enjoy the ferry trip more.
Usually when on the Island, I stay away from most of the touristy places, preferring to spend time on the shores, or hiking some of the beautiful trails- which we certainly did on this trip as well.
We had, however, another objective on this trip: we brought along our eldest niece who, being ten, is reading the Anne of Green Gables series. We had promised her on her birthday that we would take her to see Green Gables during the summer, so this trip was planned with that in mind.
Green Gables farm was owned by the MacNeill family, who were cousins of Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables. The farm and surrounding area were her inspiration for the setting of the book, and now the rooms are set up to be just as those described in 'Anne'. There is also a barn on site which contains a cafe, some really pretty gardens, and several walking trails which will be familiar to any readers of the novel: the Haunted Wood and Lovers' Lane. And of course, there's the inevitable gift shop.
I hadn't been to Green Gables in years, and wasn't in any great hurry to return- it's always busy, and I'm not big on crowded tourist attractions- but my niece's excitement was infectious. She was delighted to be able to see the house and grounds that she had been imagining as she read the books. And they've done a great job in making the decor of the house accurate both to the time period and to Montgomery's descriptions of its rooms. She was particularly tickled to see Anne's room: a dress with puffed sleeves hanging on the closet door and the remains of a broken slate lying on a small footstool.
One of the great things about kids is that they give you an excuse to revisit works of fiction which you loved as a child, and recapture some of the pleasure you found in those books (or movies) by sharing theirs. Whether you're reading aloud to them, or as they get older, lending them your favourites and discussing them afterwards, it's kind of like you're vicariously experiencing these books again for the first time. Visiting Green Gables with our niece was sort of like that as well. When I got home on Monday, I started unpacking my bag in my bedroom, and found my eyes drawn to the bookshelf containing my L.M. Montgomery collection- not just the Anne series, but all her other novels and short story collections, too . My favourites are instantly recognizable by their dog ears and cracked spines. It's been a long time since I picked any of them up, but I think it may be time to reacquaint myself with Anne... and Emily... and Valancy... and Rilla....