The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery (Part 2)

Welcome to Part 2 of  The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900.

For an overview of the project, please click here.

In last week’s post, I promised that this one would detail the “culmination of a summer romance” and I shall endeavor not to disappoint!

lucymaudmontgomery_1889-19001891

In her budding sexuality, Maud is confused by Mr. Mustard’s evening calls in which he sits and talks of pre-destination and the desire to be a minister, and judging by the entries, bores her to tears. Maud’s innocent attempts to ward off “that detestable Mustard’s” (65) visits are not to be missed, some of the comic highlights of the year’s entries.

As much as Maud attempts to shake off the unwelcome suitor, she embraces the flirtatious adventures with William ‘Will’ Pritchard (Laura Pritchard’s brother) and though it is obvious that she likes him, he likes her a good deal better than she does him.

Although there are some mentions of Nate being away to college, he does not factor in Maud’s life at this point as a romantic interest, only as a happy memory. It is on a warm July evening that Mr. Mustard builds up to his inevitable question regarding Maud’s affections and I’ll leave it to you to guess what her journal might have to say on that subject!

Towards the latter half of August, the end of summer means that Maud will return home to PEI, leaving behind her father and stepmother (and new baby brother); her newly-formed chums, Laura and Will; and return to her old haunts in Cavendish, now seemingly emptier by the absence of her old schoolmates. Maud and Will’s goodbye, it should be noted, was poignant. If you’re reading along, see the entry dated ‘Wednesday, August 26th, 1891’.

AGG fans will appreciate that in Maud’s documenting of life on PEI, are the first mentions of The Lake of Shining Waters (probably Long Pond), and Lover’s Lane, “the walk from the schoolhouse towards the home of David and Margaret Macneill” (footnote, 103). Maud’s Uncle Cuthbert gets married this year to a Miss Mary McLeod, and this is of course the famous surname used for Matthew and Marilla in AGG (now we know!)

1892

Maud is such a character. She continues to get into so much mischief and yet, is rarely caught, like sneaking into an abandoned home, or the closed schoolhouse, and giving themselves a good fright in the Haunted Wood (133). There is so much of Anne in Maud’s childhood, although I suspect that Maud was more interested in boys all around than Anne, who held a grudge forever against Gilbert Blythe.  As far as I can tell, Gilbert is, thus far, a fanciful myth, there is no basis for a character out of her school chums that matches the charming, infuriating boy who calls Anne “Carrots”.

I love how Maud goes to the “Literary” meetings, a sort of society for folks who want to discuss literature and what not.  We get some idea of Maud’s taste in literature, such as preferring Irving, who “has the greater heart” to Emerson, who “has the greater intellect” (111). At one meeting in November, she does a recitation from The Lady of the Lake (1810) by Sir Walter Scott.  These attempts are not merely to pass the time as Maud struggles to continue educating herself while trying to convince her grandparents to allow her to go back to school and continue her study for a teacher’s certificate, this time at a college in Charlottetown. They finally relent and she is to return when classes resume.

My Thoughts

Maud is a spirited young woman, perhaps a bit too innocent (and this gets her in trouble), with a definite “type” of person she’s attracted to — men who like books, but not are not stuffy, these fellows like to ramble with her on walks and have a good time. Maud doesn’t have the suitors as some of her friends do (Laura Pritchard) but she is comely. Growing up under her grandparents’ care didn’t seem to prepare her for this coming of age. Although her father does dote upon her, Maud doesn’t confide in him as it seems to upset his pretty young wife.

Maud also has an interesting view towards the death of one of her classmates, Will Spear, which she describes as “the first bead on the string has slipped off and one by one, sooner or later, all the rest must follow” (68). I wonder whether this is a result of her Presbyterian faith or how she came to develop this picturesque and abstract view of death. Further reading perhaps?

Maud doesn’t comment much upon her writing endeavors but there are hints at this stage of her life that she is getting her work (articles, poems) out there and getting positive feedback. Her Grandpa Montgomery, during the summer, met Lieutenant-Governor Schultz, who:

“had read my article on Saskatchewan and admired it very much, and he told grandpa to ask me for my photo and anything I might have written since! Quite a compliment for little me, isn’t it?” (128)

Already she is a budding writer and although Maud doesn’t comment upon it, I can only hope that perhaps her maternal grandparents (depicted as stern) might begin to see her in a better light.  I wonder if her depiction of Matthew and Marilla were in some way a reflection upon her own childhood, but it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to surmise as much.

We leave Maud for now, a spirited 18 and what new adventures shall we discover next week?

The text:

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900, edited by Mary Hensley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston, Oxford University Press (published in Canada), 2012, hardcover, 484 pages.

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery (Part 1)

Welcome to Part 1 of  The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900.

For an overview of the project, please click here.

Maud’s journal begins at the young age of 14 (a few months’ shy of 15) with the beginning of a new diary, one that she’s determined will be of substance and more than just a documentation of the weather of the day. She will go on to recount her adventures and include relevant photographs of the people and places she encounters.

1889

Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1884 (age 10)
Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1884 (age 10)

In 1889, Lucy “Maud” Montgomery lived in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, a small village of fishermen and farmers and their families, with her maternal grandparents, the Macneills. Maud’s own mother had died of tuberculosis when Maud was 21 months old, and her father lives in Saskatchewan with his new wife.

Having never been to Cavendish myself,  I try to visualize the town from Montgomery’s descriptive writing, which reminds me of life in Avonlea, from the woods and pastures, the seashore and the magnificent skies, from stormy to sunsets.

What struck me the most about this first year of her life is her school days. Her teacher, Miss Gibson, has a lot of ideas about how to engage children in recitations and school events, which undoubtedly worked its way into AGG. Maud had her own kindred spirit in the form of Amanda Macneill, and the two were so inseparable that Maud was called “Pollie” to Amanda’s “Mollie”. Then there’s the proverbial group of mean girls Maud cannot tolerate, including Clemmie Macneill.  There are a lot of Macneills in Cavendish!

And then there’s also Nathan ‘Nate/Snip’ Lockhart, the Baptist minister’s step-son who flirts like anything and hangs about Mollie and Pollie and you just have to wonder if he isn’t crushing on one of them just the tiniest bit and ahhh, the age of innocence is a wonder to behold.

1890

It’s now 1890, and Maud’s comic adventures with cows and with stoves remind me again of a certain irrepressible red-head. I suppose it is inevitable that I will look for AGG references throughout this book as I so want to believe that Montgomery drew from her own life while writing the books.

Maud, in her teenage years, is discovering how enjoyable it is to be walked home by a boy (and oh, how her classmates talk!) and the complex emotions of affections requited and unrequited. She seems to share some of Anne’s romantic sensibilities (and indeed, Valancy Stirling’s, for that matter) with her love of nature:

“Those dear old woods […] we lay and gazed through half-shut-lids at the blue sky, smiling through the traceries of the spruce boughs, or explored by the eye the intersecting glades and dreamed idly of long, delicious summer days to come, when we might wander at will through those ferny depths and gather all the joys of Nature’s bridal hours” (27).

There is a lot of lovely imagery throughout these first few years’ of scenery, especially during the journey Maud takes in the summer of 1890 to visit her father and new stepmother in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, a 3,000-mile journey that takes ten days. There, she will study for her teacher’s certificate. Maud recounts the social scene of Prince Albert in between her studies under the tutelage of Mr. John Mustard, and the addition in December of a new boy in class, William Pritchard, whom, Maud says, despite a “crooked mouth […] is splendid. I have lots of fun with him” (52).

Life is not all fun and play however, the weather in Prince Albert in winter requires Maud to walk to school bundled in a buffalo skin; and she struggles continually with her stepmother, whom she grows to despise and describes as “sulky, jealous, underhanded and mean” (43). Maud also has severe bouts with homesickness and wilts under periods of stress and a lack of steady female companionship.

December 7th is a highlight in Maud’s young life (now sixteen!) in which she has her first piece published in the Charlottetown Patriot, a poem about the legend of Cape Leforce.

My Thoughts

Lest I gloss over the bad, there is some decidedly racist attitudes existing at the time towards children with Aboriginal blood — French and Scot fur traders marrying “country wives” and the children resulting from such marriages, who are called “breeds” (half-breeds) or “Métis” (45); While the racist attitudes, not uncommon for the time, may offend some readers, it isn’t representative of Montgomery as a person or as a writer but it would hardly be a fair review leaving it unmentioned either.

Sixteen year old Maud views her stepmother (perhaps unfairly) as an unhappily married woman, discontent with her lot in life and jealous of Maud and her father’s shared affection. There are also hints that her stepmother’s happiness may stem from Mr. Montgomery’s lack of economical means. This is almost the stereotypical relationship of a young girl and her ‘evil stepmother’ and I wonder how much of this is factual and not just Maud’s limited perspective.

The emphasis on recitation and memory in Victorian era education is interesting, lending credit to Anne Shirley’s obsession with literature and poetry (and recitations) and in a small town like Cavendish, the productions the school puts on likely served as community entertainment beyond a mere demonstration of acquired knowledge over the course of the school year.

While I don’t recall ever reading the word ‘logging’ in Maud’s entries, the presence of forestry in Canada is prevalent during the 3,000 mile (there and back again) journey from PEI to Saskatchewan, which offers a stark contrast of mud, pigs, and tree stumps far as the eye can see, in the shadow of the mountains, as opposed to the lush, rolling hillsides, ocean views, and wildflower-studded woods of Cavendish.

Next week, I’ll be continuing the series, further discussing Maud’s time in Prince Albert, and the culmination of her summer romance.

 

The text:

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900, edited by Mary Hensley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston, Oxford University Press (published in Canada), 2012, hardcover, 484 pages.

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900 (Overview)

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900, edited by Mary Hensley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston, Oxford University Press (published in Canada), 2012, hardcover, 484 pages.

lucymaudmontgomery_1889-1900The Project

I have embarked upon a largish reading project, a two-volume collection of the complete journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery (who went by ‘Maud’), which runs at 928 pages (volume two is slightly shorter at 444pgs).

The journals, published by Oxford University Press, cover a period of her life from 1889-1911 (roughly twenty-two years), from the tender age of fourteen to about age thirty-six. I am guessing on the end date as I am not sure what month the final journal entry in the second volume is in and she may or may not have had a birthday at that point.  When the journal opens, she’s a few months’ shy of her fifteenth birthday.

As a reference point, Anne of Green Gables (AGG) was published in 1908, and while this is certainly Montgomery’s best-known work, besides AGG, she wrote 20 novels, 530 short stories, 500 poems and 30 essays (Wikipedia.org).

My Introduction To LMM

I am in my early thirties now but I grew up on Montgomery’s work. I still have my ratty paperback copy of Anne of Green Gables which I received in my childhood years (likely from a well-meaning aunt) and although we couldn’t afford the eight-volume set, I went on to read the complete series twice, substituting books on loan from the local library.

When I became acquainted with the Kevin Sullivan films, I was enamored all over again with ‘that Anne girl’ and I am unabashedly the proud owner of the entire Anne of Green Gables series (books and DVDs), some of the Tales of Avonlea set (books, VHS), and the Emily of New Moon (books and DVDs). I have a few random paperbacks she’s published that are non-Avonlea related, like The Blue Castle, which is in my top 10 all-time favorite novels, ever.

Then there’s the non-fiction. I recently acquired Beyond Green Gables: Kevin Sullivan’s Designscapes, when it was published a few years back. There was also Anne’s Anthology: Following the Footnote Trail, Poetry Popular in the Victorian Era, by Margie Grey. I won’t get started on my 19th century poetry collection that emerged from reading Montgomery’s work.

I consider this a small collection of her work compared to many but I mention it at all just to demonstrate how vast the body of work is that we’re talking about — barely touched really in popular media (like television shows and films) — and how one author’s work can lead to so many related materials from criticisms of her work to adaptations to plays and films and of course, the journals.

Why This Collection?

It’s worth mentioning that there were a series of journals released some years back which were organized differently from this two-volume set, but I’ve elected to try this particular collection as it is arranged with the original images that Montgomery included in her journal entries, along with footnotes accompanying the text, and it is (as previously mentioned) not a collection of journal entries, but the complete set.

When this massive tome of a journal crossed my desk at work, I cracked open the cover, the hint of a smile across my lips, and immediately became immersed in author’s writing style. I had to read from the beginning.

So, where do we start?  I think the way that I would like to begin is by posting a year at a time, perhaps with the first post covering 1889-1890, as there aren’t very many entries for 1889 when she’s first starting out the journals and all of them short(er), in my opinion.

I’m about midway through reading 1890 now, so probably in the next week or so, keep an eye out here for Part 1 in the series, where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the beginning of this journey together with Lucy Maud Montgomery.

What I, a Non-Catholic, Discovered While Praying The #Rosary

Edited: A kind friend politely pointed out that I had some of the mysteries mixed up. This has been corrected. Apologies for any offense.

Ask yourself a question.

Q: What personal things do you keep around, not for their value or utility, but just because they bring you a measure of comfort?

Keep thinking about that, we’ll come back to it later.

 

An Open Invitation to Pray

During a recent crisis in the community, our local parish reached out to the neighborhood, inviting people to come to their outdoor garden area with a pretty statue of Mary (… shrine, I guess you’d call it) to pray the Rosary. I knew I’d see some people there I know, and it’d be nice to catch up too.

But there’s one thing that has always puzzled me about the Rosary and that is the difference of the mysteries and the process of prayer and meditation at the same time. I didn’t get that. Is it like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time? I mean, with a bit of effort, I can do that but it’s not exactly easy and it causes me anxiety to try. And there are so many prayers! How do you remember them all? Why do you pray so much?

I don’t get it.

With my work schedule, I knew that if I would be able to make the event, it’d be near its conclusion. But hey, I want to participate. I’m a person of faith.  I’ll just try doing it on my own, you know, on the public bus … at rush hour … when there’s a lot of people all around … who might criticize me or you know, look at me kind of funny (that’s the same thing, right?)

Oh no.  Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all…

I found myself making the sign of the Cross anyway.

Okay… here goes nothin’!

(45 minutes later. Yes, forty-five. Talk to me later.)

I got there right at the end. But I wasn’t the only one there with a smile on my face and I don’t think it was because we were happy to see each other. We shared a secret. Yes, we. I think on that bus trip I had discovered a secret to praying the Rosary. And yes, I’ll let you in on it too.

 

The Secret of the Rosary

Earlier, I asked you what personal thing you keep around because it brings you comfort. Have you thought about it?

Maybe it’s a book you’ve never read but on the inside cover there’s that personal inscription that a friend or family member wrote to you It could be your favorite stuffed animal that you packed in a storage box when you went to college, but didn’t have the heart to throw out. Maybe it’s a favorite piece of your grandmother’s jewelry — garish beyond belief, but she wore it every day and you keep it on your bureau and some days, when you miss her, you take it out and smile, and remember her.

For me, one of those things is my rosary.

I got my first rosary during a church event which I spent with my father and my paternal aunt. Although they’re both still around and present in my life, I treasure the memories I have of the time I spent, most especially with my father. In English, we have a term for what we commonly call these objects: mementos. Everybody has at least one. There’s nothing special or remarkable about that, is there?

Maybe there is!

Think about it. That memento of yours, where did you get it? Do you remember when? Who were you with at the time? What were you doing? I bet that whoever you were with and whenever it was, it was an emotional moment in your life. I bet if you’re completely honest, a small tingling of emotion still fills you when you hold/use/see that memento. It might even be something that you’d never share with someone else. It’d just be silly to them if you tried to explain. But for you, it’s more than that, isn’t it?

Image courtesy of m_bartosch, FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Image courtesy of m_bartosch, FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Putting it another way, if I’m right, then that object or memento, is a visual aid triggering a part of some secret knowledge, of your past, of something or someone that is important to you, and when you see/use/hold it, you remember. You think about that person, that time, that experience.

I’ve just explained the purpose of the Rosary. 🙂

 

The Rosary as a Visual Aid and Prayer Prompt

Earlier, I mentioned my struggle with trying to pray the Rosary. It’s just a series of repeating prayers. I didn’t get the idea of trying to meditate and pray and what it was for. Now I think I understand a little better.

When you pray the Rosary, you are connecting with Christ. You are using a visual aid (the Rosary) to inspire reflection on the life and nature of Christ.

  • On Mondays and Saturdays, Catholics reflect on the life of Mary, and the events leading up to Christ’s birth and His early childhood (the Joyful Mysteries).
  • On Thursdays, they remember some of his miracles in his early ministry, leading up to the Last Supper, (the Luminous Mysteries).
  • On Tuesdays and Fridays, it’s a reflection on the events of Good Friday, beginning with the Garden when Jesus is betrayed, leading up to His crucifixion (the Sorrowful Mysteries).
  • And finally, on Wednesdays and Sundays, it’s a celebration of Christ’s resurrection and ascension, the events of the early Church, and a life of obedience to God, rewarded at the end of Mary’s life (the Glorious Mysteries).

But the Rosary acts like a visual aid in another way too.

It’s a prompt for our prayer lives. When I tried praying the Rosary, I found the Holy Spirit prompting my heart with words taken from the mysteries I was reflecting upon, and it gave me a direction to pray for specific things. What resulted was a far richer prayer experience than I usually have on my own. I think that the reason for this is that each of the mysteries stems from the Scriptures. When we base our prayer on the Word of God, amazing things can happen.

 

The Pleasing Aroma To God

“Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.” (2 Cor. 2:15, NLT)

I also discovered that in the process of praying the Rosary, when I announce the “decade” (the mystery I’ll be reflecting on), it helped me to stop at that point and meditate on that mystery at that point, as I prayed the “Our Father”. Pausing for a moment of reflection (or meditation) before going on to pray caused sort of a dual layer of prayers going on, on the surface, the Hail Mary’s, and below that, another prayer prompted by the mystery I was reflecting on.

It’s a bit of an awkward way to describe it but I can only compare it to it being like two layers of prayer, on top of each other, like a melody and a harmony of a song, being played at once.

As I’m writing this, I am debating, and you may debate as well, which is which, but here goes. If praying the Rosary were a song, then there are two parts, the melody (the familiar tune we know) and the harmony (the chords played in the background that flesh out the song). From my current perspective, I would call the melody the prayers in the Rosary itself, because it is familiar, and our own secret prayers to God, the harmony of the prayer experience.

I can understand though that there may be some Catholics out there who will say I’ve got it backwards, and it’s the Rosary that is the harmony of the prayer, blending in with our own secret prayers, making it a richer experience.  Regardless of which is which, I think the end result is the same: our meditation and prayers become an offering, like a pleasing aroma, to Christ.  And that, my friend, is something to be cherished.

I would love to hear your thoughts on what you think about the Rosary, and about prayer in general.  Do you think that praying and using references to scripture helps you?

The Heart of #Ferguson

Since the death of Mike Brown two weeks ago, I have been quiet on my website about the fact that I am a Ferguson, Missouri resident.  Some of you who have known me longer than this blog has existed will already have known that information, for newcomers, this may be a complete surprise to you. You might even wonder why I didn’t blog about it when I lived basically where the riots and looting were going down.

First, I wanted to put some distance between myself and the events that were going on, and second, I didn’t want to post something that might inadvertently be opportunistic in the aftermath of what was a horrible tragedy.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a lot of family and friends contact me to make sure that my husband and I were okay, offering us a place to “get away for a while”, offering assistance if needed. To those people, thank you for your kindness.

In the years since my husband and I moved to Ferguson, we’ve had two tornadoes, and now, the events of this summer taking place around/on W. Florissant at the Ferguson/Dellwood border, that’s brought national and international attention to our small town.

After spending some time reassuring one friend that we are, in fact, not in the proverbial ‘eye of the storm’, she encouraged me to share my news on my blog, I think because people need to hear good news and straight talk (to paraphrase).  So here goes…

Continue reading “The Heart of #Ferguson”