Tag Archives: Indiana

Escape to the Circus

I used to threaten to run away to the circus. But Mom refused to drive me there. So, I gave up.

Decades later, I decided to attend one. Not just any circus. This one starred kids — Little Leaguers, 4-H ribbon winners, teen hamburger flippers — who reside in a town nestled among cornfields.

I’d known about the Peru, Indiana, Amateur Youth Circus all my life, but never went. Research for a novel sent me to this circus’s spring practice.

As I entered the arena, unicycles nearly ran me down. Diving into a restroom, I considered changing my novel’s setting to a hospital.

I peeked out. No more unicycles. No one swallowing swords. Just everyday children carrying gym bags. I followed them inside.

Adults clustered on bleachers, talking and helping kids with homework. A gold-scrolled wagon — the concession stand — emitted a fragrance of hot, buttered popcorn. Research can be wonderful.

Above, adults climbed webs of ropes resembling the work of overachieving spiders. Below, teens and children hauled equipment without once mentioning child labor laws.

A herd of little kids wearing leotards lined up to turn “somersaults” — mostly belly flops. But they didn’t quit.

Neither did grade-school jugglers practicing with Hacky Sacks®. The “old guys,” who had shaved maybe once, flipped clubs under legs and high in the air, missing most of the people climbing around the ceiling.

I greatly admired the jugglers. From afar.

When more kids hung from the ceiling than clothes in my closet, I white-knuckled my seat. Children swung on trapezes and spun on cables. One teen girl shinnied up another walking a wire 10 feet above the floor. The walker shuddered. The long pole she carried shuddered. I shuddered.

But the walker regained her balance. The climber slowly rose above the walker’s shoulders, legs shaking — then dropped.

I nearly swallowed my grandma fist.

The climber fell into a net. She bounced nonchalantly then dismounted.

A few more practices, and the paramedics and I were on a first-name basis.

That July, though, Hubby and I returned to see the actual show. Would these super-spangled young circus stars live up to their billing?

Did they ever. No belly flops for the little tumblers. They somersaulted and cartwheeled. Bigger children soared above trampolines and flipped friends onto each others’ shoulders. Performers balanced on bicycles, unicycles, enormous sparkly balls. They hung from hoops, rings and trapezes. Some spun, hanging by ankles, necks and teeth. The jugglers tossed fiery clubs. We watched high wire walkers perform a seven-girl pyramid act.

My buds, the paramedics, stood by.

I didn’t faint once. And I couldn’t wait until the next July.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What are your favorite circus memories?

What Time Is It, Anyway?

I live in Indiana, where longstanding time change gripes have solidified into a Hoosier tradition. A child during the 1960s, I recall debates: Should the Eastern Time Zone stop at the Ohio or Illinois border? In the middle of Indiana?

When the time changed, I was dragged out of bed and taken to church or school when I’d rather sleep. But I endured those indignities daily, so why the brouhaha? Neither “springing forward” nor “falling back” made sense. Both sounded dangerous, possibly resulting in scraped knees and Mercurochrome, an orange antiseptic (now rarely used) that stung worse than any injury.

Early controversy centered on urban versus agricultural concerns. Some farmers believed Daylight Saving Time undermined cows’ health and confused chickens. Extended morning darkness, they claimed — the farmers, not the chickens — would make their children lazy. Long summer evenings would encourage kids to party late like decadent city cousins.

As a teen, I reconsidered time changes. Maybe my parents would miscalculate my curfew?

No, they were pastors. Congregation members, upon finding an empty church, might bang on the parsonage door early or arrive only to hear the last amen, but my folks always got it right.

Finally, in 1972, lawmakers established a mostly Eastern plan, with no Daylight Saving. Everyone carried slide rules to calculate the timing of television programs and events in neighboring states. We and our chickens were content. Cows never missed church or favorite sitcoms. We Hoosiers, along with the independent-thinking citizens of Arizona, thumbed our noses at the rest of the country.

Until 2005, when Daylight Saving Time, in the name of energy conservation and business, became law. My children and their spouses endured a nightly barrage of theological questions: Why does God want us to go to bed when it’s light outside? God made the sun. Why isn’t it working right? Where does God keep all that daylight He saves?

Excellent questions, especially the last concept. Did you save any daylight last summer? Me, neither. If only I could have deposited the daily 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. sunshine into a rainy-day account, accumulating enough interest to brighten March.

Perhaps daylight can be preserved like pickles. We could offer jars of daylight to relatives who threaten to stay extra because “it’s too dark to start home.”

Politicians, so good at passing bills, would you also mandate the best method whereby we can save summer daylight?

Until then, I, like thousands of other Hoosiers, (yawn) will keep our semi-annual griping tradition alive and well.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are you a Daylight Saving fan? Why or why not?

 

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: March Madness

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Oh, my God, during March Madness, I don a helmet. With ear plugs. You made my husband, whose signature is sanity, who keeps brown socks in one drawer and black in another. Yet he succumbs to basketball psychosis. OMG, bring healing. But please, not until April 6. (Go, Hoosiers!)