This summer has been the summer of travel. Ironically because back in January, it was supposed to be a quiet travel year. And then weddings and work travel filled my calendar. I’m not complaining; I do adore traveling particularly when work is covering a part of the tab. Luckily enough, one work trip this summer happened to be to a conference held at the University of Prince Edward Island, a place that has been on my bucket list for a very long time.
I don’t remember how I found Anne. I imagine it was a gift from some aunt or another. I do remember ploughing through the series in 6th grade, begging Mom to run me back out to the mall and the book store for the next book in the series. L.M. Montgomery remains one of my favorite authors; her adult novels and short stories are just as lovely as the children’s series she is best known for. That said, re-reading Anne of Green Gables is like re-visiting an old childhood friend and never gets old.
I adored PEI. The only reason I left without begging the university to hire me was the recent 20 foot snowfall the island enjoyed over the winter. I am a very proud central New York native, growing up outside of the usual home of the Golden Snowball Award but even that number gave me pause. That and the strong breeze coming off the Gulf of the St. Lawrence while I was there. In the winter, I imagine that wind would just cut through you. That said, PEI in August was glorious and a fantastic place to visit for this current Floridian for a break from the awfulness that is the summer here.
I was here for work and I really did enjoy the conference. That said, the last day on the Island was the best because I got to go to Green Gables. The house is part of the Prince Edward Island National Park on the central north shore of the island. It is kept exactly as LMM described the house in the original story, right down to Anne’s room with the puffed sleeve dress hanging on the closet door. LMM never actually lived at Green Gables; the house and its farm were owned by distant cousins. You can also walk and visit the location of the home LMM lived in with her grandparents though only the foundation of that home still exists today.
The gardens were truly fantastic at both Green Gables and the LMM homestead. So was walking the Haunted Wood and Lover’s Lane; truly a moment when this book nerd tried to be cool and not completely geek out in front of her colleagues. However, It is one of those moments when you feel like you’re visiting a place you’ve been before as a child and it’s still as wonderful when you’re older, maybe ever better. I don’t know that I would have appreciated it as much when I was a kid. It made me appreciate LMM’s writing more and also to understand it again. As a kid, reading the books, the emphasis on the gardens and flowers and trees seemed effusive but having visited the island now, it makes perfect sense. The island was a riot of flowers and trees; everything in bloom and well groomed. Well-tended gardens are everywhere, in every yard and public space they can fit a garden. Someone I was traveling with noted that as a place that has bleak winters, having flowers everywhere when they can is probably important to them.
Not only did I explore Green Gables while I was there, but also drove through more of the PEI National Park outside of Green Gables (where we also randomly ran into a bagpiper on the side of one of the cliffs), had delicious seafood every time I ate it while there, explored a lot of Charlottetown on foot and in general was outside as much as possible because I could be. I would go back in a heartbeat. Not only a literary bucket list item crossed off but also a genuinely awesome place to visit that I hope to get back to some day.