Oliver and I went out to Avonlea for the afternoon yesterday. Careful readers will recall that I was involved in the very early stages of this project, my prime claim to fame involving the purchase of the Belmont School House from a man in Lot 16 who was using it to store his boat.
Avonlea has evolved over the years (if you had to pick the thing that Scott Linkletter is best at, it’s evolving ideas). It started off as a very commerical sort of “ye olde mall” the first year; now almost all of the commercial activity is gone, save the chocolate and cordial stores and the Anne of Green Gables Store and what’s left is a very pleasant, well constructed historical theme village, with a rich collection of actors, musicians, farm animals and other distractions that can keep a pair like Oliver and I busy for several hours.
The highlight for Oliver and I was Michael Pendergast. Which surprises me, as if you had told be five years ago that I would write a sentence like that, I would have laughed at you. Children’s entertainers are a hard bunch for adults to like: the exaggeration and necessary general goofiness turns them into sort of anti-adults, and thus while they entertain and delight children, they make adults (or at least this adult) feel uncomfortable. But Michael Pendergast, who roams the grounds of Avonlea playing a show hear, strumming his guitar there (in what must be a musician’s dream job), has the right mix of humour, style, musical abilities (which are considerable) all without too much “old timey-ness” or saccharine. He’s a consumate entertainer.
On the way out of Avonlea, we stopped by the barn to visit the pigs and the chickens; over in the corner were Michael and his fiddler quietly playing Will You Go Lassie?. The effect was magical.