Reflections on a Special Day

There’s a reason that Joni Mitchell’s song, “The Circle Game,” has been going through my head all day, but I won’t discuss why.

I started liking this song several years ago, when my love for carousels was in high gear. I still love carousels. My earliest memory of riding one was in kindergarten, when my school went to a carnival. I don’t know where it was. Either my mom or one of the volunteers stood with me to help me keep my balance. I loved the feeling of whirling around. The horses seemed magical, and I kept staring at their colors.

The carousel at Clemyjontri Park is the best, but I also have fond memories of the one on the Mall. (See the YouTube video below.) A friend rode it with me the day we explored Georgetown and the rest of Washington, DC. I couldn’t get on the horses, but got into the “chariot seats” easily. Today, when I’m down there, I like to go over and watch the kids ride for a few minutes on my way to the next exhibit. It’s cute how they wave to the family members who chose not to get on. They are having a ball, as I used to.

The one at Glen Echo Park is really cool, but I’ve only seen it on a PBS program.

I also have a small collection of carousel horse music boxes that were gifts from my aunt at various times. I should play them more. They are still very beautiful. 

Anyway,”The Circle Game” contains much wisdom. I realize it so much more now. Here are the lyrics, and Joni Mitchell singing it in a 1972 Carnegie Hall performance:

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star

Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like when you’re older must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game *

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels thru the town
And they tell him take your time it won’t be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There’ll be new dreams maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

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