Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gypsy Mysteries

People are always fascinated by gypsies. Not just the ethnic variety, but those who seem to wander through life, not particularly attached or weighed down, but just free spirits who flow in and out of different careers and homes and lives. There is something magical about the way they can blend in and transmute themselves whenever the need arises.

Once upon a time, people stayed close to the place where they were born. Family, school, church and work were all found within a 20 mile radius of where they lived. So when the circus came to town, it was a big event. Not just because there were colorful tents, ferris wheels, elephants and such, but because the people who worked in those shows were just as mysterious as anything. Locals would marvel at them.

The same was true for those people who work various circuits like the Renaissance Festivals or craft shows. They may spend part of the year making merchandise to sell during the season, then hit the road for more than half a year, camping out for a few weeks at a time, then moving on to the next show not to return again for a year.

While they are in the company of their fellow festival members, there is a certain extended family feeling among them, which ebbs and flows as they break camp and then set up camp again, especially since they do not all follow exactly the same pattern all the time.

They have to earn all their money on the weekends, then during the week, they either restock or repair or relax. Camaraderie is found around a fire, with music and storytelling, much the same behind the scenes at a modern Renaissance Festival or craft fair, as behind the scenes at circuses or carnivals or the old fashioned gypsy camps.

They are here, and then they are gone. The shows are magical, the entertainment fetching and the mood celebratory and lively. Then camp is broken and the show disappears for another year, the grounds deserted, and the people regroup somewhere else to begin again, each day an adventure, each show with a little different flavor, each moment special in that it repeats, but not exactly, forever.

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