I couldn't have imagined a more perfect way to spend my 32nd Birthday than four whole days on Prince Edward Island - home of Anne of Green Gables.
My devotion to Anne is deep. My Dad was the first to introduce the story to me at 9 years old with the VHS for my birthday (I only just discovered that it was a shorter version and I hadn't seen parts of the full movie. I didn't know whether to be happy or sad!) From there I read the books and my life was changed, I was changed. The story and the girl had a profound impact on the person I was to become and her world became the world of my dreams. And here I find myself, in my very dreams.
On Friday we drove from Halifax to take the ferry across to the Island. The ferry ride was a great way to travel. Once, it was the only way to access PEI and I felt the nostalgia of the voyages early settlers took and the effort that would have involved for them. Once we arrived we drove into Charlottetown and spent a wonderful afternoon walking the waterfront, perusing stores and enjoying the ambiance. It's a beautiful historic town, with historic characters walking around and music playing. Levi bought me a beautiful annotated version of the book and we indulged in Anne of Green Gables chocolates (two of my favourite things combined!) and raspberry cordial. From Charlottetown we took a detour to Dalvay by the Sea, the White Sands of Anne of Green Gables. It was nothing short of a hilarious experience. In my mind I wanted to have a sweet afternoon tea in an iconic venue, what I got instead was two crying children in a stuffy hotel full of very, very quiet, old, rich people. I could barely contain my laughter as we bundled the babes up and hightailed out of there. It was some comfort to me that Anne would likely have found herself in a similar situation.
We drove from there to French River and nestled down in our cottage at the Beach House Inn. French River is Green Gables territory. Lucy Maud the author spent much of her life around this area and it's red cliffs, pastures and lakes were the setting many of her stories. I took a walk on my own in the afternoon to the beach. There is a beautiful lighthouse there from the film and I spent a moment in the long grass, taking in the sea air and thinking of what the next year of my life will hold for me.
Saturday was a magical, Anne filled day. The sun was shining and the vibrant green and yellow of fields, the red of the cliffs and the blue of the sky showed the true majesty of the Island. We spent the morning at the Anne of Green Gables Museum. This was the house of Lucy's Aunt, where she spent many summers as a child and was later married in. It looks almost exactly as it did in her day and holds many of the pieces used in her stories. As I came across the cabinet that Lucy and Anne saw their 'window friends' reflecting at them in the glass I was overcome with emotion, tears streamed down my face. What a gift, to be here, seeing that reflection for myself. That emotion carried with me as we took a carriage ride around the 'Lake of Shining Waters'. They had 'Matthew' guide us around the shimmering lake and even though I was wresting a 1 year old to stay put it was the experience I had dreamed of. I hardly could bare to leave that place, I felt connected there so strongly to the past. It all felt like there was just a thin veil between what was and what is and being a kindred spirit I could see right through it. Of all the things we did and places we saw on the Island I'll never forget that morning where I stood where Lucy Maud did and even got to play the organ used for her wedding.
Sunday poured rain all day but it was a welcome rest. We drove into Summerside for church, a little congregation which reminded me of Salt Ash and the joy we felt spending those years in a united little branch that was just like family. We slept and read away the rest of the day as the pitter patter of rain bought much needed relief from the very dry summer the Island has been experiencing.
Monday morning came and we spent the morning exploring and fossicking the red cliffs of French River beach. The vibrancy of the red sand really spoils you for any other colour, its so rich and beautiful against the blue sea and vivid green of the seaweed and seagrass. We found all sorts of little treasures to bring home with us. We made one final stop at the Tryon Lighthouse which affords an incredible view of those iconic red cliffs. We made our way back across the Confederation Bridge which is an marvel to see, it stretches 15 km's across the sea, joining the Island to the mainland. We wound our way home through Nova Scotia country side and stopped in the little town of Tatamagouche for lunch at the historic railway cafe. It's really fun to eat in an old train car preserved by the efforts of an 18 year old who bought the station building to save it from demolition and in turn saved a beautiful piece of Canadian history.
I never cease to marvel at the blessing it is to be on this marvelous Canadian adventure. I really didn't know if this dream would ever come true, but it has and I couldn't feel more grateful.