Easter Slough, Episode 1

“Yet sometimes when the sun comes through a gap
These men know God the Father in a tree:
The Holy Spirit is the rising sap,
And Christ will be the green leaves that will come
At Easter from the sealed and guarded tomb.”

Patrick Kavanagh, The Great Hunger

Hammering rain and muddy estuaries on the dirt lot sent some townies to seek cover under game awnings, where ‘jointies’ pester the poor trapped souls into games of chance for newly-stuffed junk.

Inexplicably, some ‘marks’ walk around the carnival as if it were not raining, sometimes hand-in-hand with their young children.

One grandfather yesterday embraced the torrent and ran jumping into puddles with his granddaughter, about age seven.

The same age as my own daughter, I thought. So often I see the ghost of my daughter playing at the carnival when I see another little girl’s glee.

Tortured Easter symbolism

The night will bring the slough (which rhymes with plough), the overnight breakdown of the carnival.

The slough is the climax of the carnival show, yet it is played out when the crowds aren’t around. In the night, the carnival disappears and arises again in three days.

I always wondered what happened to Jesus during the three days after the Jesus in the Gospel of St. John says, “It is finished.”

In the carnival, those days are filled with back-testing, sleep-deprived, miserable, poorly-paid work.

This Easter, the communal meal was a picnic of sorts, with sliced meats, cheeses, potato salad and colored eggs laid out on the balloon-dart game table. Stuffed powder-blue unicorns and pink poodles hung above the frosted cookies with rainbow sprinkles.

The surprise Easter picnic and the following raffle along the carnival midway occurred when the noon sun shone through the clouds, beaming off canvas tents and shining off children’s rides.

It’s spring and every carny believes this will be the year their world will change forever.

They’ll save and be saved. They’ll buy that car. Put a down payment on a bed set. Get off the road and settle down in a home.

I know one who wants to buy a Dollar Store. I know another who wants to start of computer repair store and Internet cafe. Both are veterans of past carnivals. Both were homeless a month ago.

“They’ll all be broke by the end of the season and if they’d saved just $50 a week they’d have a couple thousand dollars at the end of the season to do something with,” said one boss to me, when I mentioned carny spring.

The boss was not talking about the majority of carnies, though, who are Mexicans. They are here to send money home and most of them do so every year.

This Carnival and others in the U.S. annually empties the small town of Tlapacoyan in the Mexican State of Veracruz, on the Gulf side. Every year around this time, hundreds of men and some women, head north on work visas to carnivals in the United States.

“He (the organizer for US carnivals) told us all to get on our knees and thank God that we have this chance to work up here,” said Csaba, the head of the Jarochos (people from Veracruz) working at this carnival.

This time of year, Jarochos too are bracing themselves for a long carnival season before returning to Tlapacoyan for the winter.

It’s a traveling people’s ancient rite of spring and sometimes the noon sun shines and sometimes the rains make it a slog, in our case a slough.

Tomorrow: IMG_3658Slough fighting

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