11 July 2012

the circus

this past week, the circus came to our town. the little girl and i had had our tickets for weeks, and we had talked of little else. we drew circus pictures, read circus books, looked at circus websites and we counted down the days.

the morning of the circus, she and i were up and out early with a picnic breakfast to watch the big trucks roll in to our small town. in the clear morning air, we watched the lead trucks park and saw the first workers disembark, dressed in jeans and sweats, with ponytails and caps, ambling around slowly, yawning as they drank from big paper cups. presently more long red tractor trailers arrived, some with clowns painted on the side, some with windows suggesting animals on board. we watched while workers swung wide their trailer doors, popped the sides on campers, released small dogs into pens, and began the work of setting up the cages for the tigers. in a while, animals emerged from the backs of trucks, slow-moving and old, plodding down ramps to be tethered or caged. tigers. camels. a zebra. llamas. we so hoped for elephants, but we could not wait. in time, we needed to move on to other less exciting events of the day.
by late afternoon, we were back for the first show, elated to see the ball field transformed with cages, canopies, and wagons. in the middle sat the giant circle of a tent, reaching high above the midway and festooned with pennants. inside the big top, we sat high in the bleachers, laughing as pink cotton candy dissolved in our mouths while we waited for the show to begin. to our delight, the ringmaster appeared, calling out, "la-deez and gentlemen, and children of all ages...", just as we knew he would. for the next two hours, we marveled at acrobatic tricks and laughed at the slapstick antics of clowns. we hooted as a swashbuckling pirate balanced on two, then three, then four cylinders. we held our breath as the aerialist swung so high and so fast, she touched the top of the tent with her toes. we applauded elephant tricks and the sequined ladies who climbed up high and rode astride them. we were amazed by the tigers, standing and dancing on hind legs as they pawed the air and roared for the crowd.

all too soon, the show was over. a wobbly camel ride and the purchase of an overpriced inflatable elephant finished the evening. reluctantly we walked from the circus grounds, stealing glimpses back, knowing we would have been happy to attend still another performance, to visit again with the elephants, to experience the magic well into the night.

and as quickly as it came, the circus was gone. the next morning, the field was empty, with not even a discarded ticket stub to show that such an amazing event had taken place there the night before. the circus trucks and trailers were gone, taking the animals and the clowns and the sequined performers to some other rural spot to thrill some other little girl - and perhaps her grandmother, even more.


Kay said...

what a wonderful dreamlike adventure!!! I was a little girl on vacation in a small Michigan town when in the middle of the night a circus came to town. We heard the tigers growl! The next day we watched as the elephants pulled up the striped big top. But we didn't get to see a performance. But my Grandpa took my sister and I to a circus in Akron and I remember the atmosphere, the excitement. Grandpa bought us little fur dogs tied to the end of sticks and I still have mine..over 50 years later....thanks for bringing back the memories..have a great day!

Graciegreen said...

I just read and loved The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern. Your post reminded me of the book...Enjoy your summer!

chris said...

Graciegreen: i'm actually reading The Night Circus now. What an unusual story! And I love her style of writing! Great book!