Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Visiting L.M. Montgomery's Cavendish Home & Gravesite

Yesterday I told you about our visit to Green Gables, took you into the Haunted Woods, and left you there. (Sorry about that. Hope you fared well.)

Today I want to take you to Montgomery's Cavendish Home which was a real delight for me. We were the only ones there (and oh how I love visiting sacred-unto-me places alone!) and had the freedom to spend as much or as little time at this location as we liked.

It is easy to see why Montgomery loved the land where she grew up. The trees and the greenery, the fields surrounding the house, make it feel like an oasis from the world. While I am well aware of the fact that she had hard times here as well, the beauty of the area definitely seeped its way into her soul and affected her abilities to write. It feels like magic.

The house is no longer standing and the homestead itself had actually fallen into disrepair until after the publication of Vol. 1 of Montgomery's journals. Upon the publication of the first volume being published, relatives John and Jennie Macneill realized the deep and abiding love Montgomery had for the place and they began to re-develop it into the place she would have remembered.

Part of me wonders how Montgomery's relatives could not have known or understood her love for her home. Then again, Lucy Maud was a very private individual and not generous in sharing her thoughts with actual people. What we get to know of her is whatever she left us to know in her journals and with this we must try our best to understand and appreciate her life and her passions. Whatever the reasons for her inability to express to her family how much she loved the land, the world can doff their cap to John and Jennie Macneill who excavated the cellar of the old house (the home having been lost to fire), revealing the cellar made of Island sandstone. They cleared the trees, brush and bramble and made this a place where people who love Montgomery and her works can come and get a taste of what made this famous author the woman that she was.

At this site you'll find a little gift shop blessedly full of all of Montgomery's books which are available for purchase. I already own all of Montgomery's titles but this still gave me a huge thrill to see all of her books laid out for others to pick up and enjoy. It can be hard to find copies of some of her more "obscure" titles (although they can be found!) and it was a delight to my soul to see them available all in one place. What a treasure trove of books!

Forgive me, but I cannot presently remember the name of the lady who offers a brief history of the place for visiting guests. (I want to say her name is Judy but I could be wrong. I'm bad with names!) Judy (let's go with it) and I were very much Kindred Spirits on the top of Montgomery's works. She said I was the only visitor she'd met who had read all of Montgomery's books. She said that most guests have only read Anne. (Choke. Sob.) It was fun to talk over Montgomery facts and history with her. She is a positive delight. If you ever get a chance to visit, make a point to go to the gift shop and listen to Judy explain the history of the property. You'll not regret it.

What you will regret - as any true Montgomery fan would, I believe - is visiting Montgomery's grave site. I almost don't want to share this because I find it disheartening and somewhat depressing. But how can you not stop and pay respects if you are visiting? I don't see how. We followed the trail to the cemetery to see Montgomery's grave site.

You know that Montgomery wished to be buried on the Island that she loved. She wanted to be buried on a hilltop overlooking the land, where she could hear the sound of the sea in the distance. If you are very still and very quiet - and if everyone and everything else is also - then you can still hear the sea. However, it is somewhat difficult because the area has been developed since her time, which is both understandable and regrettable all at once.

Here is the picture you see from most tourists of Montgomery's grave:

There is a clearly marked path which leads you from the gate of the cemetery straight to the memorial for Montgomery and her husband, Ewen MacDonald.

And here is the view that you do not see online:

While it might have once been a quiet, peaceful hill, it is now a busy intersection. Across the street, caddy corner from her grave site, is a gas station. It is well trafficked.

Personally I found this a sad reminder of her life which she likely prematurely ended herself. She died without hope and any thoughts she had for her final resting place being peaceful were also not realized.

There is a lesson in this, of course, and that is that 'where your heart is, there will your treasure be also'. It was a sober reminder to me to make sure that my hopes and dreams are built from the right source and with the right goal in mind. True peace can be found in knowing Christ and, in reading her journals, I would sadly say that Montgomery did not rest in this same peace. It is sad to see dreams crumble at any time and for any reason but especially when you know that a person's last wish cannot be and/or remained fulfilled.

I'll end with these reminders of true hope which is available for any and all to latch onto. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. The things of earth will all pass away, but a future with God is secured.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. 
Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:7

Tomorrow I'll take you on a visit to Montgomery's birthplace which is a place full of happy expectations. If this post ends on a down note, know that we're headed back up tomorrow.


Shonya said...

Well, I was all joyful in the beginning, glad you got to enjoy your place alone, imagining your giddiness at seeing all her books in one place, and connecting with "Judy", and then I, too, felt your sadness at her lack of hope. Whew! Emotional rollercoaster! :)

FancyHorse said...

I am so sorry to learn of her sad end. In your blog entry that you linked, you quoted the lyrics and posted a video of "In Christ Alone", one of my favorite hymns.

Barbara H. said...

How wonderful to be able to visit her home alone without people milling about to frustrate the reverie. "Judy" sounds like a treasure. It's sad that LMM's final resting place of her body was not the way she wanted, but sadder still that her soul had no real spiritual rest in Christ.

Susanne said...

I didn't know she had such a sad ending. I'm loving reading of your holiday

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