The kids and I quite literally ran away to the circus on Friday.
But only for a day.
We took our "Mystery Friday" to head to Baraboo, Wisconsin – the town where Sage was born – to check out the Circus Museum there.
Although we lived just three blocks away for years we never once went to visit.
Living in Baraboo and not being the circus-type was a bit of a trip. Walking (then infant) Sage by the river near our house we would occasionally see them bathing elephants in the river, and we could hear the calliopes from our backyard.
I vividly recall my dog barking like mad just after we moved to Baraboo. I looked up to see a sad clown with a giant mallet over his shoulder bicycling by my house. I smiled at him politely and he just stared, all frowny-faced and sad-eyed. Biking and staring at my dog and me.
"It is scary," I assured my dog. Keep barking.
You see, my history with the circus is sketchy at best. (As a teenager in Milwaukee the only time I went to the famous Circus Parade was to hand out fliers about animal rights. I was that kid.)
So thinking about the circus has always made me feel sad.
But last Friday I decided it was time.
And I suspected that visiting in the off-season would mean no animals, few other guests, and just an amazing visual and educational feast.
I was right.
We had the place to ourselves. (Literally.) Dioramas, trains, wagons, and exhibits.
Our favorite building was a huge warehouse filled with antique circus wagons. Unheated and un-staffed it had just two rules: don't smoke and don't climb.
Wagons were packed willy-nilly throughout like they were hastily unloaded in a windstorm. Some we crawled under to get past.
It was amazing.
At one point Lupine was running full bore between two wagons. She stopped and glanced up to both sides. "There is a lot of Greek mythology in here!"
And off she ran again.
(See? We were homeschooling.)
The displays also provided me with an opportunity to talk about how people treat one another in our culture. And how slowly we are learing to believe in equality. Bit by bit.
There was a huge circus diorama that captivated us all. But when we got to the "Side Show" the kids were baffled and disturbed by what they saw. They had no framework from which to process it.
It was a great moment to discuss how we as a species are evolving as we begin to see one another as whole people – not something to laugh at, exile, ridicule, or judge.
But mostly we just had an incredible day.
An afternoon at the circus. (And oh, yes – two thrift stores on the way home.)
And now to plan next Friday's adventure. Hmmm… Where to go…
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Happy Martin Luther King day. Here is looking forward to our continued evolution, understanding, and compassion.
14 thoughts on “Running away with the circus.”
Wow, a circus museum. What a cool adventure.
Homeschool can happen in so many places, it is amazing that more people don’t do it.
Personally, I think I would be happy for an adventure to a spot in the world called
“Baraboo:, based on the name alone.
Happy MOnday to you and yours.
I grew up in Prairie du Sac, so I used to visit the museum several times each year. There are pictures of me as an infant with giraffes and tigers. Pretty surreal place. I have yet to take my kids, as we now live farther away — but the history is a big part of our WI heritage and I wouldn’t want to deprive them of that because of the societal bad that goes along with ‘circus’.
Glad you guys had a wonderful day — I’ll visit on the off-season too thanks to your experience!
Looks like a nice day, good you enjoyed it.
That looked amazing! Beautiful colours & patterns and yes history- both good & bad as history tends to be!
I lived in Baraboo too and didn’t get to Circus World until years later. My downstairs neighbors were clowns from the clown college. Thanks for sharing!
I totally get your feeling on the whole circus thing. I’m seriously attracted to the beauty of those old circus wagons and painted canvases…but completely horrified by the animal treatment. For this reason I will not take my children to a circus, and have explained why. It’s a shame to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but, I’m not sure how else to keep true to my sense of right and wrong.
Wow that looks awesome. Such great pics that captures the essence of the day xx
And for the record, Karen – the residents of Baraboo refer to themselves as “Baraboobians”. Yup. Really.
Such a trip!
I get it Cassandra. I really do.
Love the photos–really nice job! I’m with you, though–I was never a “circus person” for animal rights reasons, plus I just found it downright creepy. Same goes for Cirque du Soleil, which doesn’t even have the animals! Also: clowns? Not funny.
What a strange and incredible place. It’s really strange to see real circus wagons. I didn’t really think they were so colorful and decorated.
I love when the learning spills out as you are having fun. It reassures me that I am taking the right path.
Now I must comment! I just found your blog a few weeks ago and we have an awful lot in common. My homeschooling family of 5 bought a farm just east of Madison last spring, my husband grew up in Milwaukee, my kids have plant names, and just about a week ago my 7 yo asked if we could go to Circus World. (I said not until spring bc I thought it closed seasonally). Similarities don’t end there but I’ll stop with this introduction. I’ve been enjoying your posts!