“What would it be like to live in a world where it is always June?” asks L.M. Montgomery in a journal entry on June 30, 1902. “Would we get tired of it? I daresay we would, but just now I feel that I could stand a good deal of it if it were as charming as today.” She had had a terrible night of sleeplessness and worry, and had recovered by walking in Lover’s Lane, one of her favourite places in Cavendish.
“This evening I went for a walk in Lover’s Lane to exorcise my evil spirit,” she writes. “It was efficacious as usual. Somewhere in me the soul of me rose up and said, ‘No matter for those troubles and problems that looked so big and black in the night. They are mortal and will pass. I am immortal and will remain.” Nature always had a powerful effect on her spirits, and while the woods and fields of Prince Edward Island were her favourite cure, even a city park, like Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, could work wonders.
When I reread Anne of the Island a few months ago, I discovered that Anne Shirley echoes these words from Montgomery’s journal, saying to Marilla and Mrs. Rachel Lynde, “I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.” It’s Marilla who replies, “You’d get tired of it,” and Anne concedes that she would, “but just now I feel that it would take me a long time to get tired of it, if it were all as charming as today. Everything loves June.”
Montgomery often drew on her journals for her fiction, and I’m always delighted to find these connections. The June 30th entry was omitted from The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery — one more reason to be glad that The Complete Journals are now being published. In the novel, it’s ten-year-old Davy Keith, not Anne, who is sad despite the beautiful weather. Anne asks why he has a “melancholy November face in blossomtime,” and he answers, “I’m just sick and tired of living.” While it sounds as if he too needs to exorcise an “evil spirit,” it turns out he’s simply discouraged about having too much homework (“ten sums”) that weekend.
In the midst of all the Mansfield Park celebrations here on my blog, I’ve been rereading some of Montgomery’s novels and journals, and last week I spent a few glorious days in Prince Edward Island with my family. I finally bought my own copy of Elizabeth Rollins Epperly’s beautiful book Imagining Anne, which I’ve had from the library many times, and you may hear more about it here soon.
In the meantime, here are a few of my other posts about L.M. Montgomery:
Quotations are from The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery: The PEI Years, 1901-1911, ed. Mary Henley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston (Oxford University Press, 2013), and from Anne of the Island, first published in 1915 (Bantam, 1976).