Between the Rows: Honoring ‘Anne of Green Gables,’ and a pleasant poultry publication

  • “The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables: The Enchanting Island that Inspired L. M. Montgomery” Courtesy image/Timber Press

  • The canola fields that flower on Prince Edward Island are among the landscapes featured in “The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables: The Enchanting Island that Inspired L. M. Montgomery.” Contributed photo/Kerry Michaels

  • “Cluck: A Book of Happiness for Chicken Lovers” Courtesy image/Exisle Publishing

  • LEUCHTMAN

For the Recorder
Published: 2/1/2019 4:36:06 PM

I did not read “Anne of Green Gables” until after I saw the TV production, but the program introduced me to the delights of knowing this red-haired, fast-talking young girl.

I learned about her trip from an awful asylum to “the Island, the bloomiest place,” where she used to imagine she would live, but never expected she would. There, she listened to the trees talking in their sleep, and set to naming the landscapes around her, the Lake of Shining Waters, the Birch Path, the Haunted Wood and Lovers Lane. Like Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of “Anne of Green Gables,” Anne is a character who loves the natural world, who finds joy and solace in the fields, flowers, woodlands, wind and beaming sun.

Anne is a character who has been loved by children, and inevitably adults, ever since the book was published in 1908. Montgomery was encouraged to write several more books in the series like “Anne of Avonlea” and “Anne’s House of Dreams” about her marriage and life as a wife.

“The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables: The Enchanting Island that Inspired L. M. Montgomery” by Catherine Reid (Timber Press, $24.95) is a beautiful introduction to Anne, Montgomery’s life and the landscapes of Prince Edward Island. It is liberally sprinkled with quotes from Montgomery’s books and journals. The pages are also filled with beautiful photographs of the flowered and forested areas of Prince Edward Island, and the waters that surround it.

The book is divided into seven sections, beginning with an introduction to Montgomery’s life and Anne’s. The “Kindred Orphans” section compares the similarities and differences between Montgomery, who had many relatives, and Anne, who had none. Though their circumstances were different, they suffered, and rejoiced, in similar ways.

“The Loveliest Spot on Earth” section is about Prince Edward Island then and now; “Emerald Screens” takes us on a visit to Montgomery and Anne’s favorite gardens on the island; and “A World with Octobers” is a beautiful description of the island’s seasons. These sections are especially useful to someone who is planning to visit Prince Edward Island, but they will gladden and delight all those who love Anne.

“Something More Poetical: the Scope of Two Imaginations” and “That Great and Solemn Wood: A Writer’s Life” will carry today’s reader into Anne and Montgomery’s hopes and trials. Montgomery knew she wanted to be a writer from early on in her life. She even published a poem, “On Cape LeForce,” in a Prince Edward Island newspaper when she was only 16. It is wonderful to discover the many other books she wrote. She also kept journals that looked very much like scrapbooks, with her own thoughts written down along with pictures cut from magazines. These are now preserved in different museums, including the Green Gables Heritage Place, where Montgomery spent much of her childhood.

Montgomery, like Anne, found solace in the beauties of the natural world. Solace was needed. No one’s life is without difficulties. We hear about Anne’s brief sorrows, and in the last pages we learn about Montgomery’s sorrows and trials. Her husband suffered from a mental illness, and her scoundrel of a publisher cheated her on her royalties. There were several exhausting law suits against him. Montgomery died in her sleep in 1942. Anne continues to live on for readers young and old.

Literature for chicken lovers

“Cluck: A Book of Happiness for Chicken Lovers,” edited by Freya Haanen (Exisle Publishing, $19.99), is a cheerful book with bright photos of chickens living their chicken lives — in their dust baths, with nests of eggs, crowing in the dawn, visiting with rabbits and much more. The photos are on the left hand page, with a proverb on the opposite page. I thought several of the proverbs were quite apropos of our current political world.

Think of these. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I dream of a better tomorrow, where chickens can cross the road and not be questioned about their motives.”

One of the Nigerian proverbs in the book states, “A bird does not change its feathers because the weather is bad.” I particularly like this as we look to our legislators to keep our government on an even keel.

Then there’s Margaret Thatcher’s proverb, “The cocks may crow, but it’s the hen that lays the egg.” I have used these words in the past, but never knew I was quoting the former prime minister.

“Cluck” is a cheerful and thoughtful gift book for anyone with chickens, or longing for chickens. There are other books of happiness for dog and horse lovers, “Woof” and “Spirit,” with equally appropriate quotations in various flavors of philosophy and light-heartedness.

Pat Leuchtman has been writing and gardening since 1980. Readers can leave comments at her website: commonweeder.com.


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