Once there was a little girl with a bright, inquisitive mind who possessed a passion for consuming the written word. She read good books, books beyond her years. She often searched for the meaning of an unknown word in the library-sized dictionary her mother purchased for just such occasions. Her understanding of words grew and so did her vocabulary; it was one area she received affirmation from her mother, from whom an encouraging word was rarely heard.
From all appearances the little girl’s world was lovely; she had her own room with a full size canopy bed, matching furniture, and her very own bookshelf filled with her familiar friends —books.
At 9 she was the possessor of her very own library card; a ticket to freedom and imagination. Trips to the library were regular, but she had always finished her books sooner than the trip to seek new ones, which left her to develop a habit of re-reading one of the favorites. Books were safe. They provided a way of escape from the chaos of her home life. She would go to her room to lose herself in a book as often as opportunity provided. This little one had to find a way out from the tension, the turmoil of parents whose lives were stretched too thin with tempers to prove it. Her only brother was often the cause of chaos at home; born too soon in an era without knowledge or resources to aid families with difficult children; his special needs were not visibly obvious so his outbursts and behaviors were often shamed. Teachers mis-understood him, family mis-understood him and he was often considered a “problem”. So sad…
It was during these years of childhood she learned to “go away” in her imagination; carrying the characters and dialogue, settings and events of books as internal comfort within the external chaos. Her imagination saved her…
A great-aunt wisely sent the little girl a very special series of books. Special because her middle name and the main character’s name are the same. Special because they were all hard-back, grown up looking books with beautiful book jackets. These books were published the year her mother was born and that made them OLD.
Anne’s story was intriguing to the little girl from the first pages. Set in a part of the world and a time in history she was not familiar with, the little girl wanted to know where Prince Edward Island was, if it was a real place. She ran downstairs to search the family encyclopedia; P.E.Island was real and was located off the coast of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. If Prince Edward Island was real, then Anne could be real too!
It didn’t take long for the little Anne to fall madly in love with Anne Shirley. She wished her hair was a lovely auburn, she grew her brown hair long to be able to braid it. She painted on her play house door “Green Gables”. Little Anne was caught up in the beauty and freedom of imagination.
“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive—it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?”
Scope for imagination. Kindred spirits. Love for Octobers.
Ah what would I have done without the Great White Way or imagining the possibility of a bosom friend like Diana?
I am so thankful that my Great-Aunt Mildred sent me those precious books at a time in life that was so challenging.
If you have not read Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, I highly recommend it. To quote another great author:
“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” C.S.Lewis