“Let’s go fly a kite. Up to the highest height. Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring. Up to the atmosphere, up where the air is clear, oh! Let’s goooo….fly a kite!”
Ah, yes. The infamously catchy song at the end of the film version of Mary Poppins. Once you begin humming it, you won’t be able to stop. I want you to know it was with a heart of great sacrifice that I was willing to even go there. I won’t get a wink of sleep tonight.
Having said that, however, I must simply must put forth the reality of the intoxicating nature of a kite. I have, in fact, always thought so and have been apparently mistaken in my understanding that everyone feels just this way.
I grew up in Wyoming. That is enough explanation for anyone who has been there or has even passed through certain parts of that state. They should put up signs that read:
Beware: Winds So Strong They Will Flatten Your Ears, Compress your Eyeballs, And Remove All Visible Hair (Or at least tangle it until you look like Helena Bonham Carter)
It was natural that we should, as adventurous children, take to kite-flying. The wind was there in abundance and in that pristine high-plains desert, with the sky such a deep blue it defied comprehension, the thrill of feeling that sharp tug and the heart-pounding feel of the power of the skies was enough to make my knees go weak.
The kite became an extension of my arm and it was addicting, that sharp uptake, the gentle tugging to locate the updrafts and then, whooosh. All I had to do was keep releasing it to it’s destiny up there in the freedom of the blueness, and then I would test it. Is it firmly up there? Is the weight right? Do I need more tail ties? Most of the time it was perfection and I would crouch and then lay down in the oh-so-soft Kentucky blue grass, all the string out, and just watch the distant dot weave and dodge.
Ever so often, the wind would be too much and the string would go slack after a sharp but gentle snap. The kite would rise, free, caught up in something much bigger than itself. I never really felt sad when that happened. I did, after all, know how to build my own kites, so I would go and make another one and feel satisfied that there were little pieces of my kite genius out there with the rattlesnakes, toads, and sage bushes.
Things have changed. I am now married with three of my own. I live in the Midwest. What they consider wind out here is laughable. But I am kind and humor them, these Heartland people.
I hadn’t gone kite-flying in years. And then my love goes and gets two. Two kites. I could hardly contain my excitement and jumble of nerves. We put them together and tried to put them up. It was supposedly windy on Memorial Day. Not in my estimation, but I went along so as not to be a spoilsport.
I was feeling sorely disappointed in the lackluster performance of my kite, when my love and our eldest son launched theirs and it went up and up and up, and stayed up. All the string was out. And then I looked over and felt tears spring to my eyes. There he was my 7 yr. old lying in the grass, casually holding the handle of the kite, showing off a bit I imagine. How, I wondered, do children know to do that? It must be, I decided, part of that “kite-knowingness”. Laying in the grass is just how it’s supposed to be.
My little Miss and I kept working on getting ours into flight as Little Bear repeatedly asked for milk. I’m afraid he wasn’t understanding the true import of the event.
Boy, ours simply gave us fits. We tried everything. We adjusted the tension, the tail weight, and the angle against the wind. Glad to say, right as a bit of rain began to fall we experienced take-off. Such a sense of satisfaction we had as we trudged home, our arms sore and our eyes squinty from staring into the sky.
So, I say with some boldness, take your Wii and your iPods and your high-tech entertainment, World.
I’m stickin’ with my kite any day.
*Note: If you want to make your own kite…
I found a good tutorial here and a neat excerpt from the American Boys Handy Book. Click on the links at the bottom of that page. There are all kinds of neat-o ideas for creating your own flying experience.
And I so desperately wish I had photos for you, but our camera is causing me fits and it was virtually impossible to shoot good pictures. There were so many memorable moments for us that all I can say is to seize the day and a good kite and relish a grand wrestle with the wind.