Friday, March 28, 2014

When Books are Kindred Spirits

Photos copyright Sullivan Entertainment Social Download Pack
Anne of Green Gables was one of my favorite books as a child. I read the whole series when I was in sixth grade and all eight books took up a position of honor in the little bookshelf that was built into the head of my bed, where they would be available to me at a moment's notice for re-reading.

After a failed attempt at reading it aloud to our oldest daughter a few years ago, I was convinced that it would, sadly, be a long-time until I could share it with my daughters. Then in January, I thought we might watch part of the Anne of Green Gables mini-series for our family movie night. Our girls had been loving the old episodes of Little House on the Prairie television show and my friends' tween daughter had assured me that "they grew up on the movies." So I thought we could give it a try.  The girls were immediately hooked. I had intended to just watch the younger years, but they demanded the sequel too. As I love the original miniseries almost as much as the books, I was happy to comply.

That soon led to the listening to the first three audiobooks and Rainbow Valley, and the girls begging to do a unit on Anne for school. Then they found out that their best friends had also just watched the movie and were equally obsessed. Now whenever they are together they act out full scenes from the movie - in costume.

In a misguided attempt to add some calm and soothing music to our day, I checked out the soundtrack to the movie from the library. It only took the girls a few tracks to discover that track three was the scene where Anne and Diana chase the cow out of the field.
Photo copyright Sullivan Entertainment Creative Commons
This meant that every time that track came on they had to dash in a big loop around our house mooing and yelling "Anne, mind your dress!" Then they had to put the track on repeat so they could chase the cow some more. When they introduced their friends to this game, it became so popular that they began to request that we bring the music with us to their house so that all nine of them could chase the cow. Now when the music starts to play, even my 21-month-old son comes running, yelling, "Anne! Anne!"

One day, in the thick of this Anne-mania,  I was talking with my husband about how formative these books were for me as a child. I remember riding my bike up the dirt road behind our house and naming my favorite spots on our property. There was one particular bank where the trees had been cleared. I named this place Teaberry Gardens because of the tiny, red teaberries you could find growing on the ground. The berries were not sweet, but had the sharp bite of wintergreen. While Anne had her red, dirt roads and the wind off the sea, I had a ring of mountains on every side, which I used to imagine looked like the graves of giants. She had brooks and  Idlewild and I had creeks that were so cold they turned your ankles red and my little hidden spot in the woods I named Terabithia (after another of my favorite books). Anne taught me that you could love a place deeply, even if that place was out-of-the-way and a bit old-fashioned. She taught me that I could love my home-place in West Virginia as much as she loved Prince Edward Island.

"But wait," my husband asked me. "Didn't you read the books after all of that?" After a stunned silence, I said, "You're right. I didn't read them until I was in sixth grade. Maybe they weren't formative after all, maybe they just made my life make sense."

Some books are good stories, but other books are kindred spirits. They take hold of you and draw you in. You look out at the world and see a lake of shining waters where there had only been a pond. In its reflection, you find you a whole new way of seeing yourself, and suddenly you find that you make sense, that perhaps you are a kindred spirit after all.

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