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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Kate, ‘Zanne and Anne

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The newlywed royals–Duchess of Cambridge Catherine and Prince William–visited Canada this summer.  On the itinerary was Prince Edward Island, home of the fictional Anne Shirley (“Anne of Green Gables.”)  Long before her fairy-tale wedding to the future King of England, young Kate Middleton was a big fan of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books.  When presented with a new edition of the series as a welcoming gift, the Duchess replied that she’d like to read them again.

That inspired me (the ‘Zanne in this story) to do the same.

Actually, I’d read “Anne of Green Gables” as a dreamy third grader.  That was the year we moved three times during the school year, so I never got around to the rest of the series.  In the 1980s, the television mini-series with Megan Followes as Anne rekindled my interest. When my daughter was born in 1988, I bought the set for her.  Too old fashioned for her tastes, I presumed, since the stories took place in the early 1900s.  She later confessed that she’d given the books away.

So it was up to me to return to picturesque Avonlea on my own, downloading what I could to my Kindle and filling in the gaps with a couple of used paperbacks. I resolved to spend the summer with Anne, age 11 to  her mid-50s, which is how old I am now.

Reading all eight of the “Anne” books as a middle-aged woman revealed so much more than my first reading as a girl.  Anne’s appeal is timeless.  I’ve always identified with strong female characters, but Montgomery created a girl-woman for all seasons.  Resourceful Anne set goals and achieved them:  college, work, marriage, family.  She found joy in nature, in learning and in the people she loved.

No matter what the century, some things remain the same–busybodies, best friends, bullies, burying a child.  People called Anne’s son a “sissy” because he wrote poetry and thought deep thoughts; he died on a World War I battlefield.  Small-town society can be small minded, even today.  But Anne remained strong and hopeful.

As I rediscovered Anne, I admired her grace under pressure, compassion and imagination.  Back in England, I’m sure a certain royal reader agrees.

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Another Summer’s End-Part II

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Let me continue with this summer’s saga: After our first idyllic weekend in the woods, we packed up and prepared our cabin-on-wheels for our July 4th return.  I tidied up and stocked the bathroom with toilet paper; my husband placed a half-dozen Damp Rid dehumidifiers, several boxes of mothballs and carefully placed mouse traps “just in case” to protect the place from moisture and rodents.

We returned for the holiday weekend.  As I opened the door, I stifled a scream when I caught sight of a plump field mouse in a trap.  There’s not much I’m squeamish about, but mice and rats gross me out.  When my sweat-soaked husband emerged from the trailer nearly an hour later, I knew the news would not be good.  Apparently the mice found the toilet paper quiet handy for building cozy nests in the kitchen drawers.  All my brand-new kitchen gadgets were ruined and had to be tossed.  Instead of enjoying a glorious day in the mountains, I Cloroxed and Lysoled every surface I could inside the trailer to make it habitable for humans again.  By the next day we’d relaxed and started enjoying ourselves.

Before driving away, we confidently stocked the trailer with more mothballs, more mouse traps and dehumidifiers.  No toilet paper left behind this time!  But by now we’d become paranoid about the mice menace and realized we’d have to squeeze in an up-and-back in a weekend visit in August to check on the trailer.

Upon our arrival, more evidence of the uninvited guests awaited us but no dead mice. Again, we cleaned up the mess, set out the arsonal of traps, tucked away scads of Fresh Cab repellent, and headed home.  As Labor Day and the end of summer approached, our dream of colonizing our new vacation home was in sight.

Led by the martryed mommy mouse, the mice had beaten us to it.

When we arrived Saturday morning, no mice were present but their pellet “calling cards” were strewn everywhere.  Though fragrant, the Fresh Cab didn’t fend them off and they’d made soft nests out of trailer insulation.  Daunted but determined, we drove into town to buy more cleaning supplies.  Before we left we turned on the water, which soon revealed the rodents’ latest triumph over us humans.

The mice gnawed holes in a water supply pipe and the wood around it, causing the water to spray out inside the wall and across the floor.  Turning off the water meant no running water inside the trailer, no showers all weekend and flushing the toilet with jug water from the pump outside.  But we stuck it out and stayed.  We salvaged what we could of our vacation.  We’ll have to take another trip back to salvage our trailer and haul it home.

All it took was one summer for the mice to beat us.  It’s the end of the summer, and the end of our trailer-steading dream.

Another Summer’s End-Part I

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The day after Labor Day’s a little like the day after Christmas–a day to reflect on the season’s excesses.  Another summer that was too hot, too busy, too fleeting.

Today we paused to realize that this year’s sweetest success is also a failure that’s hard to swallow.

The journey began last fall, when I spied an amazing online deal on a brand-new 22-foot travel trailer .   We drove five hours to an RV dealer in Columbus, Georgia, to check it out.   How perfect it would be for our beautiful, cresent-shaped land in the North Carolina mountains!  We bought the ultra-light trailer on the spot, but had to leave it there.  You see, we didn’t have a truck to tow it back.

We took care of that problem quickly, buying a ruby-c0lored Ford F-150 with equipped with a towing package, and headed back to Columbus three weeks later to bring the trailer back.  Luckily, we have good friends who live in the country who let us park our mobile cabin next to their fifth wheel.  When we’d come over to visit them, we’d visit the trailer too…bringing new accessories in preparation for the winding road trek to White Oak.  Our rolling home’s new home!

In April a huge wildfire burned within a half mile of our friends’ home, but we couldn’t come rescue the trailer.  Fortunately, no damage occurred to our rolling home or theirs.  At the end of the month, we hooked up the trailer and headed to Walterboro, SC–halfway to our place in NC–for a shakedown weekend and side trip to nearby Edisto Beach.  We left the trailer behind at a quiet RV park near I-95 to await our return on Memorial Day weekend.

So we drove from Florida, hitched on the trailer in SC and rolled through the mountains.  Then we conquered the winding gravel White Oak Road and its one-lane bridges and squeezed truck and trailer through our gate.  Once parked, our neighbors welcomed us with delicious fried chicken and biscuits.  That night we drifted off to sleep inside our little trailer, confident that a carefree summer of holiday visits lay ahead.  (see Part II)