When I was little, whenever I said “whatever” in response to someone, my parents told me I sounded like Miss Piggy. I didn’t really know what they were talking about, because I barely recalled her actually saying those words. Though now I realize that she DOES say that now and then. Perhaps I did pick it up from her, that noncommittal answer that expresses annoyance/frustration/confusion and a number of other things. But it doesn’t answer the question.
In this case, I’m using that word for the idea of this day being for whatever I want to do, not just a nonsensical or unnecessary response. Having finished my first week of work, I’m enjoying the freedom. Since I haven’t met anyone in town, yet, though I plan to meet lots of people at church, tomorrow, I can’t make a date with anyone. Can’t go to meet anyone for coffee. I don’t have rush anywhere (though if I could meet Imogen at Bogey’s, in Emerald, right this second, I would). Also, I really need to eat lunch before I leave the house, so I have a little over an hour before I’ll head anywhere.
At that point, I’m thinking of heading to the Mall of America, seeing as it’s only half an hour from here. I’ve reviewed the directions, it looks quite simple, and I’ve read that if I take ten minutes in every store, it’ll take me about eighty-two hours to finish looking in every shop. So, in that case, there’s no pressure. I’m not a serious shopper, more of a wanderer, so I can wander where I please, gawk all I want to, just soak up the insanity of how big that place is supposed to be… and then head back to Shakopee. No need to see it all, I have a year to do that, if I want to. I can do whatever I want to, today.
Meanwhile, I’ve promised myself that I’ll read some more of my book, which I’ve had very little time for, this week. A few minutes over my morning coffee (before I start working), and a few minutes in the evening, between checking everything online. Some days, my brain has been so out of it, I haven’t been able to concentrate on a book.
But a few days back, I started reading my favorite of the Anne series, Rilla of Ingleside, and since it’s been several years since I read it last, I’ve found my viewpoint has changed quite a bit. Perhaps it’s because I’m reading it on my Kindle instead of the actual book, but I’m reading bits that I’ve skimmed, in times past, and things are striking me differently than ever before.
Those of you that love Anne of Green Gables (and rightfully so), but have never read beyond it, you have no idea what you’re missing. Yes, I harp on this subject, regularly. The rest of the Anne books follow Anne and Gilbert’s courtship, engagement, separation while he’s in school and she’s teaching, and then their early years of marriage. New characters that are dear and wonderful arrive on the scene. What would life be like without the man-hater, Cornelia Bryant, (“that’s just like a man”) but who is still a part of “the race that knows Joseph”? Susan Baker becomes a treasured part of the household, though she is never a servant, and loves her “Mrs. Doctor dear”. Captain Jim brings his wisdom and storytelling to the scene and the mystery of the beautiful Leslie Moore must be solved.
Rainbow Valley changes the focus of the tale, introducing us to Anne’s children. L.M. Montgomery certainly knew what children were like, and the tales of Jem, Walter, Nan, Di, Shirley, and Rilla are already precious and entertaining. But not stopping there, onto the scene comes the children of the new pastor, motherless children who are often forgotten by their absentminded, yet wonderful, father. Demons for mischief, but they never mean any harm by it! To crown the scene of childhood adventures, the arrival of the orphaned, runaway Mary Vance shows the difference between harmless mischief and really, truly trouble. Perhaps someone will finally join in to exert some control over these wonderful, needy children?
This brings us to Rilla of Ingleside. The youngest of Gilbert and Anne’s children is Rilla Blythe, who is just about fifteen years old. Life is exciting to her, she has no ambitions beyond her first dance, and dearly as she loves her siblings, she doesn’t want to follow any of them to college. A trifle spoiled, one of the most beautiful of the Glen girls, she’s ready for life to continue to be a beautiful song, for years to come.
But hovering on the horizon is that specter called World War I, which they knew as the Great War. On the eve of Rilla’s first dance, England declares war on Germany. The young men of town are excited and thrilled, ready to volunteer and go to the aid of the mother country. The girls do not understand why this would be exciting, and why it should interrupt their lives. The young men are looking for the glory of it all. And young Walter Blythe, who has always had a keen eye for the beauty and the ugliness in everything, sees what this war could become, and trembles at the thought.
Not being that far into the book yet, I’m only just rereading the part where in the face of his friends and brothers’ volunteering in the armed forces, Walter confesses to his youngest sister, Rilla, that he is afraid of joining. He is hiding behind needing to get over the aftereffects of having typhoid, but in truth, he is completely well. Rilla does not understand why he should need to go, not understanding what the effects of this war will be.
During this time, the women of Glen St. Mary are just beginning to rally behind their boys, organize a Red Cross, and keep a steady, smiling face for their departing loved ones. Anne and Gilbert go about, being as brave as can be, but their smiles do not always reach their eyes. Anne is facing what only a mother can understand, sending her son to war, with a smile on her face. And during the rest of the book, we read along as Rilla goes from a flighty, slightly self-centered young girl to a woman, with a knowledge of true love and true loss. And though I’ve read this book many times, my heart continues to break for those who have lost their boys. Because these characters are written so that they’re real to me. It may be only a book, but I still tell you, if you’ve never read it (or any other Montgomery book besides Anne of Green Gables), you have led a deprived life. Rilla of Ingleside is one for the ages.
In real life, we should never forget the sacrifices of “our boys” from the war that’s happening now, to the wars of long ago. What we have in every country that is free is a direct result of their commitment and dedication, their sacrifice for their families and the country they love.