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Saturday, 20 January 2007

I'm Anne

For Sunday Scribblings. This week's prompt - 'Fantasy'.

Although her circumstances and mine were very different, there was something about Anne Shirley that I could respond to - that fighting attitude, her chatterbox cheerfulness despite trying circumstances ( such as her red-hair, the bane of her life; how she longed for it to be ‘auburn’ rather than ‘carrots’). Her desire for pretty dresses with puff sleeves. The mistakes she made through sheer enthusiasm. Her ability to spot a mile off, any pretentiousness and hypocrisy. Her inner strength. The way she used imagination to defeat obstacles. ('True, Anne could not help a little pang when she contrasted her plain black tam and and shapeless, tight-sleeved, homemade grey cloth coat with Diana's jaunty fur cap and smart little jacket. But she remembered in time that she had an imagination and could use it.') And then of course, there was Gilbert Blythe whose attentions she initially rejects in snooty fashion. Would he eventually win her heart? Anne from ‘Anne of Green Gables’ was a fantasy, a fictional character, but real and gutsy all the same.

And I found it easy to transpose ‘Anne of Green Gables’ on to my own childhood landscape, even though it was on the other side of the world to Prince Edward Island, Canada. And even though it was set in a different time in history. The town in which I grew up, I easily imagined to be Avonlea. The stream in which Anne’s ‘bosom friend’ Diana just about drowned, became the creek that ran near our house. The trees, the orchard, the lanes, the fields, the neighbouring houses - they were all to be found in my world too.

Below is a poem I wrote recently in which I try to convey all of this:

I’m Anne

Whitecaps switch on and off
as Foveaux Strait darkens.
I walk back home
along the White Way of Delight
on gravel as loud as sandpaper,

in the air the smell
from Gerritson’s pig-farm.
The Lake of Shining Waters
is a small dam brilliant with lime
-coloured chickweed

and along The Lane
through chest-high grass,
the snuffle of seed-heads
and there, the first sight of home
- Green Gables, despite
its scarlet roof.


Remiman said...

How rich our lives are with it's imaginings.


megan said...

The stories of our childhood...the ones we read and the ones we interweave. I love that they last a lifetime. Thanks for sharing your true words.

Frances said...

**sign Anne of Green Gables - what a character - what a book
I love that last line of your poem.
Have a fabulous Sunday

Regina Clare Jane said...

What a wonderful poem- Anne Shirley has surely been an inspiration for a lot of us growing up!

Cailleach said...

I used to love Anne of GG - I remember devouring all of the series when I was in the last year of primary school. Anne was every thing I wanted to be; strong, silly at times, but always learning from her lessons, with seemingly austere guardians around her, who nevertheless loved her when push came to shove.
Ahh... thanks very much for that CB!

Jan said...

Really enjoyed this, C Biscuit. Your writing is clear but dreamy. BUT HOW do you do all this, what with Baby H and all the other stuff you do??

Bridget M said...


I recently saw a movie, Code 46, with Sarah Morton and Tim Robbins, that was quite intriguing. Apropos because Robbins' character is an investigator in counterfeit fraud. He gains information by asking subjects to "tell him something personal about themselves." One subject reveals that she is fixated on freckles, and loves Anne of Green Gables.

So many freckle references in such a short time.

Clare said...

I loved Anne of Green Gables too - especially when she dyed her hair. I like the structure of the poem - clever the way the italicised parts come in and the sounds and sights strong and sharp.

Becky said...

Excellent poem and I so love the title. It so conveys that childhood impulse to be someone else.


chiefbiscuit said...

remiman - What would we do without imagination? "You've got a great imagination," my parents used to tell me. I thought they meant it sarcastically (in fact I'm sure they did!) and that it was a negative, until later I realised that despite what my parents thought,it was actually a positive characteristic.

megan - Thanks. I like that word ... interweave ...

frances - Thanks. Somehow the character of Anne resonates with a lot of people eh!

reegina clare jane - I always thought she was so funny and strong ... I loved her stubborness, among other things.

cailleach - It's these spirited heroines ... Heidi, Jo March, Pollyanna ... They were inspirational - but for me (and it sounds like for you too) especially Anne somehow.

jan - Thanks so much for that - I take it as the highest compliment!

bridget - Fascinating stuff ... I'd forgotten about the freckles - I could certainly identify with that part of Anne's story!

clare - Thanks. I think L.M Montgomery's writing - maybe in 'Anne Of Green Gables' more so than the other books in the series - was quite energetic and funny, which certainly brought Anne alive to all of us who love/d her.

becky - Thanks. Wasn't it fun being a kid? We don't get away with such transferences anymore ... ;)

apprentice said...

I bet you have the whole landscape in your head. It's wonderful how a book can give a child a whole other world. I used to love Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals.

I hated my freckles, I used to try egg white and lemon to scrub them off.

chiefbiscuit said...

apprentice - I never thought of trying egg white and lemon on my freckles! :)
'My Friends and Other Animals' was made into a film wasn't it? A great book too - although I only ever read it once - probably be good to read it again sometime.

Tammy said...

I LOVED Anne of Green Gables and your poem captured the beauty in the story. HUGS

Kindred Spirit

Bogart said...

First of all I want to thank you for sticking with me and all your kind words.

I love the poem. When I read,

"and along The Lane
through chest-high grass,
the snuffle of seed-heads"

I was walking with you.

chiefbiscuit said...

tammy - Thanks kindred spirit ;)

bogart - Hi!! I love reading your stuff so it's easy to stick with you my friend!

Anne S said...

What I remember most about Anne of Green Gables - of course I read them in my childhood - was the "puff sleeves". Everytime I see a dress with said sleeves I always remember how I used to long for a dress like that. Nowadays I wouldn't be seen dead in one.

chiefbiscuit said...

anne s - Yes I was thinking just that very thing. I must admit, my Mum did sew me a puff-sleeved dress and I loved it - but like you - Yerks! Not now!

paris parfait said...

Lovely post and lovely poem!

chiefbiscuit said...

pp - Thanks!

ecm said...

Fantastic poem! I wanted to be Anne...and my world had almost no similar features...but that didn't stop me from finding them :)

chiefbiscuit said...

ecm - Welcome to the Anne Shirley Club!


'how this all harbours light'