In a few weeks, we’re wrapping up schoolwork and kicking off summer with a special field trip– one that we’ve geared our studies around for months and planned for years. Our recent library checkouts (and new acquisitions to our permanent home library) ought to provide a hefty hint as to our destination…
If you guessed Prince Edward Island, Canada; you’re exactly correct.
In preparation, we’ve re-read all of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s timeless tales, this year’s literary pursuits verily immersing us in all things Anne-with-an-e. Immersion/deep-diving is my favorite teaching strategy. (After reading the Harry Potter series we journeyed from Montana to California to be wizards for a day and when our girls were at the height of mermaid/manatee fascination we traveled to Florida to swim with each.) I’m grateful for the opportunity to flesh out our studies with a hands-on approach, customizing our kids’ home-education with grand adventures and real-life experiences.
Truth be told, our trip to Prince Edward Island is a pilgrimage I’ve spent a lifetime dreaming of– and not merely as an Anne-Fan. I’m positively swooning because, for me, PEI is truly a motherland: Where my maternal grandmother spent her holidays with family as a child, where she fell in love and started a family, and where she continued to journey back to despite residing on the opposite coast in the US later in life. My mother was born on PEI, as were all of her grandparents– and the island remains populated with distant cousins to this day.
Light research in preparation for this sentimental journey unearthed a few poetical tidbits:
The Mi’kmaq [indigenous first peoples of the Canadian Maritime Provinces] name of the island, Abegweit, literally means “cradle in the waves”… befitting for a homeland.
In Scottish Gaelic (my predominant heritage from this side of the family tree) it’s “Eilean a Phrionnsa”, island of the Prince. My grandmother was Norah Eileen, so it’s no wonder she always pined for the island– it was hidden in her name as well as her heart.
Additionally, I’ve learned that Anne author L.M. Montgomery shared a secret diary with a bosom friend named Nora and seemingly immortalized her in a character of the saga, fittingly ‘rather reserved and proud’ and having ‘a tang.’
I regret not joining Grandma Norah on a visit “back to the island” while she was alive; our upcoming trip will be a special homage to her. I’m grateful to my thoughtful and generous husband for using his vacation time (and funds) to whisk us away to an unfamiliar land so steeped in family history. I’m counting down the days.
“Just another month and I’ll be home for vacation! I keep thinking of the old orchard at Green Gables with its trees now in full snow… the old bridge over the Lake of Shining Waters… the murmur of the sea in your ears… a summer afternoon in Lover’s Lane…” (Anne of Windy Poplars)
“Only a few more weeks till spring… and a few more weeks then till summer… and holidays… and Green Gables… and golden sunlight on Avonlea meadows… and a gulf that will be silver at dawn and sapphire at noon and crimson at sunset…”