Saturday, 20 January 2007
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:
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
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.