We have finally gone too far north for the satellites. Internet spotty.
Norway, Michigan. 72 miles. Grass lot. Weather cool.
Hancock, MI. 131 miles. Fairgrounds. Gravel lot. Warm. We’re the third circus to visit Houghton/Hancock this season. Surrounded on three sides by Lake Superior, this is as far north as we will travel this season.
Ishpeming, MI 90 miles. Grass lot. Perfect circus weather.
Nick Adams at 104
Sits most days
In the 4th floor
Rec at Regional V.A.
Staring out across the white hot
Florida parking lot
Toward Upper Peninsula Michigan.
Ernest Hemingway, a self-styled circus lover and of the greatest of American writers chose the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as the backdrop for his coming of age stories chronicling the life of a character he called Nick Adams. A Century age, during Hemingway’s own childhood for midwesterners Upper Michigan represented wilderness in a world where there was no longer a western frontier. The Upper Peninsula was a land of vast forests and wetlands, lakes, and rivers and hunting camps, and logging towns. Further to the east the same wilderness attributes sent New Yorkers north to the Adirondack Mountains. Hemingway’s The Nick Adams Stories remain mystical in their power to evoke a genetic memory of the past when we all knew the forests and wondered what we might find beyond the next bend in the creek. Driving the narrow roads of the U.P. through woodlands of birch and pine the ghost of Nick Adams still haunts a land that remains very much wild, and Nick Adams is all of us, as rooted here on these trout streams as Norman Maclean’s characters remain rooted to the big waters in Montana in the other great coming of age in the wilderness story that marks 20th Century literature, A River Runs Through It.
What does any of this have to do with circus? If circus as we like to say conjures up recollections of childhood it’s worth remembering that other great magics also conjure up childhood, perhaps none more so than the wild places. Circus has always followed the frontier. Circus has always come to these wild places. We can only hope that it always will.