April 22, 2010

The Colourful Wanderers.

Do you remember visiting a circus show as a child? The season of the circus has started in Denmark. In my town, from now on, a large green area just next to the sea shore will for months to come house colourful tents, exotic and less exotic animals, acrobats, beautiful women and clowns. Different companies will establish here their temporary homes for a few weeks, bringing entertainment and excitement.

I pass this spot every day on my drive to work and just this week, circus ARENA has parked all its red and yellow wagons in a semi circle, surrounding the large plastic construction, draped over poles, decorated with shiny neon lights.

It is the same every spring. The circus appears out of nowhere; one day the spot is pristine clean, the next day, as if it grew out of the ground over night, there it stands, a fairground in all its magnificent glory. The circus always arrives in the stillness of the night and the tent is erected during the quiet hours of the dawn. It takes skill and incredible sense of order to get everything ready in a timely, organized fashion.

The history of the term circus stretches back to Ancient Rome. Influenced by the Greeks, it was a building for the exhibition of horse and chariot races, equestrian shows, staged battles, displays featuring trained animals, jugglers and acrobats.
I have often wondered how it feels to be working in this traveling show. Being confined to a small caravan for months at a time, finding oneself in a different location every few weeks. Having to work hard, often in a foreign country, for most likely not a very large pay. Living a nomads life, trying to raise children in an environment that is always changing, offering very little solitude or security.

But then again, it is a life filled with the promise of adventures ahead at all times. With no boring routine to spoil ones days, when anything is possible. A certain sense of freedom, where possessions are scarce and company always cheerful. When family is extended and where sad seclusion is removed. Friends are never far away and laughter always present. When hard work is rewarded by the exciting faces of children, who watch ones every move with astonishment and awe.
Maybe it is a life one can truly envy.

30 comments:

Kath said...

When I think of the word circus, I think of the trundling wagons in "Dumbo", with the elephants trunks peeping through the little windows.
I always loved the horse back acrobats. Just the smell of the circus sets ones skin tingling with excitement.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

I think my locale has lost some of the circus charm. When the circus "comes to town," they just rent one of the large arenas for the performances--no colorful tents and wagons, no fanfare on arrival as in the olden days. I have not been in years (decades!), but if I were to pass a scene such as you describe, I might be lured in. Thanks for this--I think this is a nice tradition, especially for the kids. C

Doreen said...

I remember when the circus came to town as a youth. but in our town it would only stay for a week, then move on. that is the way here in the states. it is fun and exciting when you are a child. now that I am older, I don't like the captivity of wild animals. I would rather see them free.

Amelia said...

you know, I have been talking to a friend this morning about being trapped by your trappings: house, mortage, work, school etc and I love the concept of living small and lightly and being able to have the freedom to roam and enjoy life and this planet . . .thanks for reminding me that it isn't all about the possessions . . . .

Amelia.x

Brian Miller said...

yay. we love the circus...such a magical place, you never know what you just might find...

Cottage Garden said...

Fascinating post Zuzana. I didn't realise traditional circuses were alive and thriving in your part of Europe - 'running away to a circus' has always meant escaping from a humdrum existence to an exciting way of life hasn't it!

However, I think maybe it has become a romantic ideal and the colourful and exciting circus you have in your town doesn't exist here any more, or at least not to my knowledge ... I don't like the idea of animals in circuses - I always used to get upset for them when I was a child!!

Great photos! Will you be going along?

Jeanne
x

Gal Friday said...

How interesting to learn that you'll have circuses coming and going and setting up in the same spot for months at a time. That is different from here--the circus comes to town for no more than a week and leaves.

When I was in Boston earlier this week, I saw there was a circus tent set up in a a large open public area in the middle of the city.
Truthfully, I never cared for the circus--something about the clowns, smells and loudness of it scared me.

steviewren said...

I had no idea traditional traveling circuses still existed....and more than one! Do the different troupes have special acts to draw the audience each time? Here, it's the Ringling Bros circus that comes to our city. The shows are in the arena downtown.

Alesa Warcan said...

There's a children's movie scripted by Neil Gaiman about a little girl who wants to run away from the circus to lead a normal life... Your musings remind me of the girl's character... MirrorMask, it was called. It was a rather interesting movie on a visual level, but the plot was only so-so.
-
We have touring circuses as well, they go from city to city and set up for a few weeks. I haven't been to one since I was child, I remember especially enjoying the popcorn and soft drinks and little else. Perhaps i was too young.

Susan Deborah said...

Zuzana:

Thought a lot about you and your Irishman when I landed here. Missed reading your posts. Will try to get the Battenberg that your Irishman sent to you. I remember all of it.

I have never been to a circus but considering the fact that sometimes life resembles one, I think I have seen it many times.

Love and hugs,
Susan

Susan Deborah said...

Oh yeah and I like the lady in white looking into my eyes every time I visit her blog. You look mysterious and stunning!!!

maja miusow said...

being in circus, watching the show and all this dressed up people is one of my the strongest memories from childhood. I know exactly why-it was just very intense and colourful-completely different that grey, post communistic reality around me. thanks for stopping by and Ur kind as always comment! btw-I really like new portrait on Ur blog, the bright one! x

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Wonderful post. This has me wanting to re-read Jan Yoors work! -J

Zuzu said...

Loved you last paragraph, Zuzana. Happy day to you.

Claus said...

Truth be told, I don't like the circus. Why? animal reasons; you know me! I don't like that they make a living out of the poor creatures, often mistreated in Latin American ones.
Nevertheless, there have been here in Guatemala a couple of ones animal-free!, which I found genious. One was an on-ice circus, with plenty of fun numbers, and another one what a traditional cirus has (reloaded and ten times more extravagant) minus the animals. They were a lot of fun, and I got to go and had a good time.
have a lovely day!

Sukanya said...

Oh I used to and I still love to go to circus. The whole place is so cheerful and so full of vibrant and sparkling colors. I just love the clowns, the flexible acrobats, and the daring motor-cyclist and the lions and the circus elephants who wonderfully exhibit their well-trained skills :)

Thanx Zuzana, for taking me back to my good old days.

Radka said...

Ahoj Zuzko, děkuji ti za milý komentář. Jak pak se máš?? Já docela dobře. Počasí je u nás doslova aprílové. Chvilku je zima, pak zase teplo. Už se těším na květen. To je jeden z nejkrásnějších dnů v roce.

sprinkles said...

I never got to go to the circus as a child. I did go once with a friend's family my senior year of high school and found it wasn't nearly as exciting as it was on tv. I don't think the show lasted very long either. I guess that's what you get when you live in a small town!

My brother was helping out with a circus a few weeks ago. He works for a company where he helps get stages ready for concerts and things. An opportunity came up for him to do a little travel with a circus for a few weeks and he jumped on it. Not sure if he liked it or not.

Dan said...

Hi Zuzana
I used to read Mr Galliano's Circus (by Enid Blyton) as a child, and loved the tales and the way they lived, but I'm afraid the first time I ever went to a real one I embarrassed my mum by crying the whole way through because they made the animals do tricks.
For me, the myth and reality of the circus are very different things.
I was so surprised to see the elephants in your picture, as most of the circuses here don't have 'exotic' animals any more.
Dan
-x-

Rajesh said...

Wonderful post. I had been to circus as a kid very long back.

Betsy said...

I went to the circus once as a child...very fun!

Your new photo is stunning! :)

Isakias said...

I have always thought of the circus as being creepy. Funny, huh? I have this ominous and freekish idea of the circus that I just can't shake. I know that this is not the reality of it, but none the less, if I truly plan to see cirque-de-soliel someday I am going to have to overcome some fears first. :):)

Isakias said...

Oops once again,...I have logged in as my son. (It's me,...Holly. :))

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

I remember attending the Ringling Brother Circus as a child and then years later taking my own children. I especially recall my late father wanting to take my daughter and I to the circus. How amazing and wonderful that he wanted to do that. "C" is right, the circus used to arrive in our city with much fanfare-- with a parade of the animals across the bridge. I'm not sure how it happens now. Perhaps I should take my own grandchildren to the circus this year! Thanks for a great post that sparked pleasant memories!
Hugs,
V

Phivos Nicolaides said...

When I was a child I love the circus. Now I feel sorry for the poor animals...

Zuzana said...

Kath, C, Doreen, Amelia, Brian, Jeanne, Tina, Stevie, Alesa, Susan, maja, J, Zuzu, Claudia, Sukanya, Radka, sprinkles, Dan, Rajesh, Betsy, Holly, V and Phillip, what a great collection of comments!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your take on the term of circus and your sentiments and childhood memories tied to this colourful travelling show. I am delighted that for some of you this brought back precious moments in time and gave rise to sweet contemplations.

To those of you who expressed concern about the animals, let me reassure you that in Denmark, the care and treatment of animals is tightly controlled and regulated. The term circus here means not some sort of medieval freak show, but a family run business, that is passed on from generation to generation, whose members – whether human or animals – are well cared for. Implication of anything else would cause a deep distress and offense in those who make their living in this field, at least in this country.

As always, I love when you stop by and all your lovely comments and visits are very much appreciated.

Xoxo
Zuzana

tony said...

It's True! The Circus seems to pop up out of nowhere!
Sadly (I think?) The Circus in Britain seems not include any animals these days.but I love The Clowns Bestest so I dont care!

Hilary said...

I have mixed feelings about the circus as I do about zoos. Regardless of the fine care animals are given. I get the appeal and feel it myself. I love that kids can see creatures they'd never encounter otherwise. Their being caged and their performance of tricks feels wrong.. and yet intriguing. I'm a hypocrite that way. :/

Jacki said...

For the first time since Emma was born we missed the circus (Barnum and Bailey)! We just had so much going on, we just couldn't fit it in. But we love going and watching all the acrobatics. But like one of your previous commenters, I do feel sorry for the animals, now. Especially the tigers.

Zuzana said...

tony, Hilary and Jacki; thank you for sharing with me your own sentiments about the circus and everything connected to it.;)) I always enjoy your visits.;)) xo