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Paper Circuses


As a child I used to take a stack of paper, a book, markers, scissors, tape and go to the car. I’d sit on the bench seat (without the seat belt buckled as it wasn’t a law yet then) and spread out my supplies. Sometimes I’d make something really beautiful, sometimes I’d read and sometimes I’d just daydream. I went to the car because it was the only place I could be on my own. As the eldest of four siblings, one of them a baby, there was no space in the yard or garden that I could just be to myself. So I discovered that if I went to the car nobody missed me. I could stay out there for hours and when mom started to call us in for dinner or whatever, I could hear her and come straight in. Sometimes nobody knew I’d been out there at all.

One of my favourite things to do, sitting in the car or at the kitchen table, was to make richly coloured paper cut out art. I would draw things, flowers, people, trees, and paint them in with felt tip markers. I outlined everything in black and then I’d take my scissors and cut around the lines. In this way I created whole forests, towns and villages to play with. One of the best things I ever made was a paper circus. It had not only lions, tigers and bears but stands for them to balance on and hoops for them to jump through too. I don’t remember putting any people in that circus, it was all animals. And my mom was so pleased with it that we got a special envelope to put all the pieces in, so we could keep it safe for longer. Paper always eventually deteriorates, but I had many wonderful afternoons playing with that paper circus.

One day, when I was about 11 years of age, I was sitting on that bench seat in the Buick and I was just looking out the window daydreaming. I don’t know where it came from, but I will never forget it. There, on the lined school paper I had and with a regular old ball point pen, I began to draw. There was this huge house, and lots of little rooms in it. People were sitting in the rooms just two of them, talking. Some of the larger rooms had people in them stretching. There was a big kitchen and a lady in it, teaching people what to do with herbs and explaining cooking. Outside, off on the hill to the right, was a large fire pit. People gathered around this fire at weekends and just stayed there. They sat at that fire all night. Behind the house and the pretty big hillside there was a round and fenced area where I guess they kept horses. There were lots of pine trees. A river flowed down the other side of the hills, I knew it was there but couldn’t quite see it. And off to the left, several twists and turns of the road further, was an ocean you could just about make out. There was an area right in front where lots of flowers grew, and this is where people parked their cars. They had to park and walk through the flowers to get to the house. There were a lot of people, more than a family, because they came and went through the day. It was a powerful place, there were birds of prey in the trees. Later, as I grew and understood more of life, I understood that I must have seen forms of counselling, yoga, nutritional therapy, ceremonies, equine assisted therapy and nature immersion. I had understood intrinsically that I was part of this place, this place was part of me, and that it would one day come to be.