Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Circus Came to Town!

3367 / 3000 words. 112% done!

Huzzah - reached the top of the Mount of Wisdom and drank from the Kabbalistic Fountain! Will have to trim the paper down a bit, but it's good to go. Now the plan is to keep writing and expanding this into a book chapter, and then last year's Kalamazoo talk as well - will probably set up word meters for those, too. Today was bright and cheery all around: Iris was very happy to go to school, full of glee and projects, Oliver and Eleanor were spiffy, and I wrote a goodly amount finally feeling like I had something to say. But of course we all had a spring in our step - wouldn't you if you saw this out your car window on your way to school?

Beauty, isn't he (she?)? The kids just completely freaked with joy. Iris kept saying "Oh my God! Oh my God!" - I could barely drive the car I was laughing so hard. We've been seeing posters up around town for the circus, but this made it all true: and best of all it was right there on Place Saint-Martin (where they used to hold the livestock markets, you'll recall - quite the turn of events for animals at Place Saint-Martin!).

The kids were super excited and wanted us to take a picture of them in front of the Cirque Zavatta truck. That little truck would drive around town all day, with its loudspeaker atop its roof, announcing the circus's arrival. That, in combination with the animals grazing on Place Saint-Martin completely transformed the town. We all did our thing, but each of the five of us was thinking about the circus after school, I just know it!

Even the weather complied! By the time it was time, the sun had come out and so we went early to look at the animals around the Place du Cirque. There we bumped into Roxanne and her daughter Thalis (who are so lovely and friendly and who moved to the Morbihan from the Côtes d'Armor because, after three years there, no one had reached out to befriend them. Three. Years. And she's super friendly and nice. That put a perspective on things! We've gotten together to chat a couple of times and we're talking about exchanging e-mail addresses - woo-ha!). Anyway, here the kids are petting the big-hoofed horses.

One more poetic picture before we go inside.

Ok, no, wait, one more. He's just so majestic, in his own funky way. I've checked, and this is indeed a camel (turns out it's the dromedary who has one hump - who knew?). This one, we were told, is from Siberia and is used to much colder weather. He cuts a fine silhouette against a building on Place Saint-Martin. I love the nonchalance of a camel - distinctly soothing.

Mac was completely in charge of taking pictures, so you'll see some departures from my usual unthinking photos. This is Apache, "un cheval d'Amérique!," and Mac has him in black and white (in what I'm persuaded is an homage to the circus performers in The Seventh Seal, despite his assurances to the contrary).

But then, with Mac behind the camera, you get beautiful shots like this one.

It was a pretty small circus, this one. About six performers altogether, and the horse, a pony, and the camel and the dromedary, and an alpaca and a llama. But you know what? It doesn't take much to feel that thrill - especially if you're seeing it through the kids' eyes. All told, though, this guy was impressive!!! The black and white photography makes it all so melancholy - I'd best snap back to color before I start wondering about the wanderlust life of circus performers...

The circus itself was the Achille Zavatta circus which, if you follow the link, you'll see has quite a story. The founder was born in Tunisia in 1915 of an Italian family of circus performers. Today it's his daughter and grandson who run branches of the circus - and then apparently about 40 other troupes use the name. Who knew there were that many circus troupes in France? The performers were all young, and there were at least three kids running around - two of them even performers, which impressed our kids no end.

There was an American number with a lasso and a whip whose dance-house country music actually made me feel a pang for home! Of all the weird triggers...! The cowboy had two huge rope whips that he would swing and snap really impressively - and very loudly. Scared the pants off of Eleanor who volunteered: "Don't ever wake us up that way, Mommy." Ok, sweetheart. Never. I promise. Yikes!

Ah-ha! Just stopped myself again from musing about the itinerant life on the road that circus performers must lead. Or thinking about the development from the medieval commedia dell' arte to the big 19th-century circuses, meant to bring you a taste of the Orient or at least the exotic. The great thing about this circus was that we were no more than 10' away from the animals and performers - it's quite something to stare a Siberian camel in the eye as he haughtily passes by munching.

As soon as we came home, Oliver suggested that we watch Dumbo - it was the perfect thing to do. The circus came to town, it truly did!

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