It's Lucy Maud Montgomery's 141st Birthday!
You can read what Google reported about LMM, or "Maud," as us uber fans call her, HERE:
If you don't know the delights of Lucy Maud Montgomery-
"Oh, Marilla, you don't know what you're missing!"
Most likely you have a cultural awareness of Anne of Green Gables, or as Carlo tells me she is known in Italy, "Anna da Cappelli Rossi." (Anne of the Red Hair.) You may have seen the CBC/ PBS movies staring Megan Follows or heard of Jonathan Crombie (aka Gilbert)'s untimely death last spring. Perhaps you are reading this blog because you are one of my childhood pen friends from across the globe, connected by a newsletter devoted to Anne, Maud, Emily of New Moon, Pat, the Blue Island, Victoria Magazine or baking vanilla liniment cakes.
Those of you who don't know this whimsical obsession of mine- those of you who know me as a powerhouse, or as an opera singer, or as a former rock singer, or as a writer of mystical memoir, or as a purveyor of raunchy and funny one woman shows, may now be going, "huh?"
Let me tell you just a little bit about why I love these books, this author, and what the books and their birth mother have meant to me over the years.
I first encountered Anne of Green Gables through the CBC/ PBS movie. PBS was not only one of the few channels we were allowed to watch at leisure as children, it was also one of the only channels we got in what was then a little house on the edge of a big forest (since replaced by housing developments.) I LOVED Anne and identified with her- constantly having adventures, and then constantly getting in trouble for being misunderstood for those adventures! I bought the books through my elementary school's book sales program. There used to be these little two or three page book catalogs (was it called Apple Books?) printed on newspaper style paper and you would pre-order the books for $1.25 or so. I DEVOURED the first Anne book and then began obsessively reading everything the woman ever wrote. Even in high school- I may have been writing essays on "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand (not a fan) or "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald (I am a fan) for A.P. English, but my free time was spent up in a tree or at the local coffee shop (JAVA JOINT!) reading Anne. (And King Arthur books, and others, but a lot of Anne.) As a teenager, I was romantic, poetic, deep, and although I had a group of friends, I really felt the most MYSELF as a lone wolf wandering through those disappearing woods.
The best trip I ever went on- with humble respect- was when my mother took me and my sister to Prince Edward Island, the native land of the esteemed author. We had so much fun peeking into craft shops, bookstores, and driving to remote parts of the island where the waters were wild.
In college, the journals of LMM came out. It was, looking back, probably not the best idea to have been reading them at that time, for LMM suffered greatly from depression and many disappointments in life. She had such high ideals and so many aspects of her life seemed to fall short of those ideals. I shared that same problem in life- when a person has such an illustrious romantic imagination, and wants desperately to believe in the goodness- nay- GREATNESS- of oneself and others- then.... as a former life coach used to say, "Wanna be disappointed? Make an appointment." Meaning: attachment to outcome will disappoint you because it will so rarely go that way. Things will not look the way you THINK they should look.
My shrink in rehab took away my Sylvia Plath books- ("Maybe best not to read the Bell Jar while you're going through this," Judy had said.) but I retained my LMM Journals.
Now, as an adult who has far surpassed those difficult times and replaced the wallow and misery with the sort of wisdom only pain can bring, and who looks for the opportunity ALWAYS in each obstacle, I understand why I loved Anne first, but TRULY loved Emily of New Moon, another of her heroines, more:
Anne is what we would like to be. She looks always for the goodness and the possibility, and grows deeply into her own womanly wisdom despite great difficulties (being an orphan, being a red head, SPOLIER: losing a child.)
Emily is closer to our truthful experience of life as deeply sensitive, acutely aware, yet dreamy creators of story.
What I aim to be now is THE STORY GIRL, Sarah Stanley, one who travels the world telling and writing her stories. Why? Because stories are how we feel ourselves back- or not- and therefore how we fathom what it means to be human.
The value and beauty of life, of nature, of relationships... In my heart and mind, I do feel that THESE are the things that will return humanity to a semblance of sanity. These are the things LMM offers with her characters and writing- heroines for us all to learn from, laugh with, feel delight and horror and comfort in.
That's what LMM has given to me.
That photo above is Prince Edward Island-
sure does give you a lot of "scope for imagination," eh?
“There's such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I'm such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn't be half so interesting.”― L.M. Montgomery,