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Friday, September 26, 2014

Anne of Green Gables: a refreshing story

A short while ago I became intrigued with a PBS series, a televised version of the (print) book titled Anne of Green Gables. The story takes place on Prince Edward Island and centers around a young girl who is too skinny, funny looking, and has long red braids and freckles. She is an orphan who has lived with this one and that and is adopted permanently from an asylum by an old maid, Marila, and her brother. Anne (with an "e") is a chatterbox and is a challenge to be around.

I have been reading the story in a book I picked up at a used books stores. It is charming! One part I really enjoyed was when Marila told Anne that she could not do anything else unless she finished her assigned "patchwork" for the day. Anne complained that sewing straight seams (by hand) was boring and she didn't like to do it.

If you are over 90 years old, you might recall having to do "stints" of sewing. "Stint" comes from olde English and refers to a prescribed length of time to engage in a task. In the "olde" days, young girls were required to accomplish their stint of sewing every day as part of chores. This is the first time I have heard of the practice in a written source (this novel geared to juniors).

The number of surviving schoolgirl Samplers are testimony to the fact that embroidery was also required and used to teach letters, numbers, and somber religious sayings that often mention death or the hereafter. Betty Ring was the consummate U.S. collector of Girlhood Samplers and wrote a number of lengthy and well-illustrated books about them. She died earlier this year and her collection was auctioned.

Sewing and embroidery would appeal to the more quiet types. "Anne" was more rambunctious and enjoyed being outside, picking flowers, making up little stories and names for everything in her environment. I can understand how happy she was to finally have a home. She was learning life's lessons at the hands of two old people who had never had children of their own yet had the patience to instruct her in the path of righteousness.

Interestingly enough, I switched on the television the other morning and saw an animated version of Anne of Green Gables. I am about half way through the (thick) book and really enjoy picking it up. Thought I'd share this information with you.

Throughout the book there are references to quilting:  carrying patchwork in one's apron to work on in spare moments; returning a quilting frame to Mrs. Lynde, etc. All of the descriptive phrases of nature are scrumptious. The book seems to really capture the scenery of Prince Edward Island and make one wish to visit there!


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