Riding an Elephant


 “Lo-o-ook, Mimi, Look!!” five year-old Charlie shouted out of breath. Putting down the cookie cutter, dusting off my hands, I took his while he hurried me out the front door into the yard. “… what to my wondering eyes should appear?” How could this be? The only circuses I knew anything about were set up under big coliseum domes with bright lights, sound systems, and…

Here in our little town was a circus parade! Down the street marched a small band stepping high in rather worn uniforms; the drummer pounding out his cadence, and the bugles blaring. Next came the animals: lions, tigers in their cages, a man on high stilts, another playing with monkeys perched on his shoulders while two others held his hands laughing and sneering at the audience gathering next to the street. The monkeys, switching places with each other incessantly, looked more like they were leading the man, than he leading them.

Finally, we saw the elephants, not like Zenobia drunk with ale, but friendly elephants with babies holding their mothers’ tails by their trunks. A clown whirling cartwheels, ran over to the sidewalk handing out leaflets. My grandson and granddaughter grabbed the papers, then almost tore them from my hands. “What does it say? Where will it be? Can we go, oh, can we go, Mimi?”

Amazing! The leaflet invited us to watch, even help, as the circus set up. Just to entice us even more, they offered a ride on the elephants. Who could resist? Sugar cookies can wait. We piled in the car and drove to the circus set. Electricity filled the air. Jubilation soared! Stifling smells of animal dung and sweaty men coarsed our nostrils, but no one cared.

The tent lay flat on the ground; clowns, gymnasts, every member of the troupe worked hard. Brittney, almost three now, grabbed my hand. A scruffy looking man walked over, “Would ya like a ride little girl…little boy?” Two children jumping up and down on tippy toes two minutes before, suddenly became wimps, hiding behind their grandmother on either side.

Looking at me with a twinkle in his eye, the man assured us, “Lucy can take all three of you right up there. I’ll put the little girl on Lucy’s head after you are up, you can hold onto her, and I’ll lift the little feller. He can sit behind and hold onto you.” That’s the way we did it. Lucy gently wrapped her strong trunk around my body, lifting me slowly onto her shoulder.  With Lucy’s strong, tough trunk around my waist, floating up onto her back felt primordial. Spiritual. Our motherhood, once girlish youth seemed one. She was calm and confident. So much so, I, too, felt confident, trusted and trusting. It seemed Lucy, the children and I had entered a nether world, still and quiet like a dream, calm and soothing. The cheers of the crowd, the yells of the working crew faded.

Lucy took us for a slow ambling lap around the park. After a second lap around, our matronal Lucy lowered her front feet and trunk to the ground as the kindly scruff helped us off one by one. We patted and hugged her saying good-bye, assuring her we would be back for the evening show.

Standing for a moment, we watched as she sauntered slowly away with another set of children, turning her head and batting her eyelids fondly toward us. Waving in reply we turned toward the supine tent.

Even filling water buckets for the animals was fun. Of course, we didn’t know if we were stepping in spilled water or something else. Soon everyone in the troupe took their place around the tent. The elephants were staggered around the corners with ropes placed around their back legs. Slowly as they moved forward, the tent seemed to magically float into the air. We watched in amazement as the tent grew stable and inviting. We left knowing that however great the evening might be, it would not surpass our experience this morning. Unsuspecting in our waking hours, we lived that day joyfully in a time warp, now faded history.

From Mimi, BJ, to Kay and Charlie.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kay
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 18:22:38

    Love it. I really wish that I could remember all of that. It intrigues me that you are able to tell me things like this that I had no idea about. Love you! 🙂


  2. joy
    Apr 26, 2010 @ 08:20:37

    that would be so cool to see!!
    i am sure you all enjoyed it very much.:)


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