"Every life is a tangled web, a crisscrossing of change and choice, nature and nurture, free will and fate. Studying the pattern of L.M. Montgomery’s life, we can see some obvious threads: her heritage, her position in her family, her marriage, her friends, her foes, her ambition. But weaving through that pattern was an extra strand: the storyteller’s gift, the gift of words. In the face of enormous trial, Montgomery held onto that strand. She used it to knot together all of her puzzling experiences, creating memorable, lovable stories with sunny surfaces and darker shadows. Whatever happened to her, whatever she read or heard, she caught in a net of words."
― Rubio & Waterston, Writing a Life: L.M. Montgomery
Born in 1874 on Prince Edward Island, Lucy Maud (without the "e," thankyouverymuch) Montgomery's life was not too dissimilar to Anne Shirley-- the character she is most famous for creating. Her mother died when she was little, her father leaving her to be taken care of by her extended family. Feeling orphaned, Maud (she wasn't fond of her first name) escaped into stories, both reading and writing them. She published her first poem in the Charlottetown Patriot in 1890, and went on to become a teacher at various rural schools in her late teens and early 20s. She took a job as the assistant postmistress so she could send manuscripts to publishers and receive responses without anyone knowing what she was up to.
L.M. Montgomery dangled between the "real world" and story world. She understood that few would end up being kindred spirits who would be able to truly relate to her.
“[...] I grew up out of that strange, dreamy childhood of mine and went into the world of reality. I met with experiences that bruised my spirit - but they never harmed my ideal world. That was always mine to retreat into at will. I learned that that world and the real world clashed hopelessly and irreconcilably; and I learned to keep them apart so that the former might remain for me unspoiled. I learned to meet other people on their own ground since there seemed to be no meeting place on mine. I learned to hide the thoughts and dreams and fancies that had no place in the strife and clash of the market place. I found that it was useless to look for kindred souls in the multitude; one might stumble on such here and there, but as a rule it seemed to me that the majority of people lived for the things of time and sense alone and could not understand my other life. So I piped and danced to other people's piping - and held fast to my own soul as best I could.”
― L.M. Montgomery, My Dear Mr. M: Letters to G.B. Macmillan from L.M. Montgomery
Maud began writing Anne of Green Gables around 1903. It was finally published in the summer of 1908 when she was 34 years old. I recently began re-reading the books to see how well I was able to relate to them as an adult, and found them surprisingly sturdy. It's no wonder: Montgomery was nearly 30 when she began telling Anne's story, and the lens through which we see Anne's world is unmistakably mature.
I'll admit that I stumbled into a love for these stories through the Kevin Sullivan productions. Even as a young girl I related to the fiery Anne-- a precocious, clumsy girl with a big imagination, a romantic heart, and a hunger for stories.
I've wanted to make drinks inspired by Anne and the other colorful residents of Avonlea for awhile now. Anne, Marilla, the "raspberry cordial" that got Diana so drunk, and-- ugh-- Gil (here's to you Jonathan Crombie). But it occurred to me that I needed to begin with the place at the heart of the story, the place that allowed Anne to become who she was meant to be: Green Gables. Because as Anne said, "It's a million times nicer to be Anne of Green Gables than Anne of nowhere in particular, isn't it?"
It sure is, Anne.
"Green Gables was built at the furthest edge of his cleared land and there it was to this day, barely visible from the main road along which all the other Avonlea houses were so socially situated... Very neat and precise was that yard, set about on one side with great patriarchal willows and the other with prim Lombardies." Anne of Green Gables
There's a quiet little place that I imagine for my future, filled with sprawling fields surrounded by trees. I realized when I was making this drink that Green Gables (aided by my own rural upbringing) is at least partially responsible for planting this dream in my head.
I didn't want this drink to be too literal. No need to get specific with trees or plants grown there, or specific foods consumed there. No-- I wanted my Green Gables cocktail to taste like what I imagine it'd be like to drink in the surroundings of that idyllic place: The sweet breeze blowing through grassy fields, the flowers and herbs blooming near the veranda... What the morning might smell like when you open the gable windows.
A cocktail by Sara Galactica
What you'll need
- 2 oz gin
- .5 oz fresh lime juice
- 1 oz thyme simple syrup
- 1 oz Lillet Blanc
- 2 drops Angostura bitters
What to do
Pour all ingredients into empty cocktail shaker.
Fill cocktail shaker halfway with ice.
Secure lid, and shake vigorously for 25 seconds.
Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme (or lime twist).