The zen of elephant poo
Driving mom to an appointment, a giant train passed to our right. It was the enormous Ringling Bros. Circus train. We were excited to see the mile of cars. It was breathtaking. I tried to film it because I couldn’t believe my eyes.
The circus means different things to different people, but to my 75 year old mom, it’s pure joy. That night I bought five tickets for mom and friends to go, and waited a month for the night to come.
The magical night came. We went to dinner and headed out to see The Greatest Show on Earth!
After driving around the worst parking I have ever seen in my life, we finally made our way to the door. The PETA people were protesting out front. None of that bothered the mission, our mission, to show mom a great time.
At the circus, my good friend Katja Edgar and I decided to see if anyone would loan us a truck to return to the circus to collect elephant poo for our gardens. We posted our search on Facebook. It was a damn funny post.
Pachyderm Poo expedition! Anyone have a truck? The post got a lot of responses and one friend, one great friend, said she would loan her truck.
Mom had a great time. She giggled and cooed for two hours. My excitement bloomed when I saw on Facebook that I could borrow a truck!
My friend, Spring Warren, loaned us her truck. In the morning we packed shovels, buckets and boots, and drove back to Arco Arena. Neither one of us knew exactly how to get there. But it didn’t matter. Our quest was noble. We had GPS.
At Arco, every security guard smiled and let us pass into each different gated area, and sometimes even into the wrong area. I would drive up, roll down the window and say, “We’re here to pick up elephant poop.” Each security person openly laughed. From their view it was obvious we had buckets and shovels in the back. What could go wrong?
We went to the wrong gate, turned around and each new security guard waved us through. We are just two 50 year-old women with meat on our bones and worlds of experience who both like chickens, fresh eggs, composting, bunnies and gathering weird shit for the garden in a big ol’ truck. We aren’t activists. We don’t have nose piercings or Mohawks. My jeans came from Chico’s and my T-shirt, from Penney’s. Neither of us wore make-up. Katja wore purple Birkenstocks.
We finally got to the right place. It wasn’t weird to me to be where the circus folk live. Just a few years ago I visited my son in Mexico City when he worked as a stagehand in the circus. None of it was a weird deal. We drove up to the correct gate and the security guy told us where to park. But I didn’t follow his direction. Instead I tootled around.
Driving around the back lot made us feel lucky. We were in. It was easy. There were circus folks, circus trailers, animal trailers, and the breeze was gentle. We still didn’t find the poo. I drove slowly with my nose whiffing the air. If I couldn’t see the trailer, at least I could probably smell it. Then the unmarked cars showed up.
One after another they pulled up behind us. The nice security guard was replaced by a badge-wearing sheriff. They thought we were undercover PETA folks on a mission of mayhem. He brought up PETA, we denied any relation. He asked for identification for the truck I was driving. It had a business title on the door, but I knew nothing about it. My purse was behind my seat and I was a little afraid to reach for it. We tried to tell him about the beauties of healthy poo. But he wouldn’t listen. We were obviously hard-core PETA chicks disguised as matronly middle class wives. Obviously, we were selected by PETA because of our cool, disarming demeanor.
He didn’t order us out of the truck, but had we lingered, that was the next step. Just then the elephants started to pour out of the arena toward their enclosure. I had to back the truck quickly. The cars behind me gave me room. Mr. Badge Wearer started filming the elephants with his phone.
I just sat there in the drivers seat wondering what to do next. Katja snapped a picture. I slowly backed the truck around and made my way toward the exit. It was sad to feel defeated. But as Katja said, neither one of us look good in orange jumpsuits, and her purple Birkenstocks still look brand new.