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.
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.