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Go Fly a Kite!

I have been waiting a long time to write this post.  Sitting at 134th on my list of blog ideas, a list that currently stands at 316, it has been almost five years since I added this topic.  In spite of previously loving to fly a kite, it took me until a spring-like day in early March of 2021 to finally re-experience that joy.

The occasion was a trip with our in-town granddaughter to a park where we were helping her re-learn to skate, not having been at a skate rink since the beginning of the pandemic last January.

As we gently held her hands to steady her on the skates, a big gust of wind came along that slowly propelled her forward without her picking up her feet.  I thought, this would be a perfect day for a kite!

I had actually bought this kite four years ago expressly to get the chance to do just that.  After deciding to end her lesson and jump on a big swing, I suggested to my wife who goes by Mimi, her grandmother’s name, that I return home to get a kite.  I knew where this one was stashed away in a closet, but I also seemed to remember that our youngest son, our granddaughter’s dad, had left a bag of kites at our house a number of years ago.  After a bit of rummaging, I found the bag in the corner of our garage closet.

When I returned to the park, our granddaughter excitedly ran to me as I pulled the bags from the car. She immediately wanted to launch one in the parking lot to which I gave her my first kiting lesson having fondly recalled it from Charlie Brown, you always want to get far away from “kite-eating trees”.

We made our way out to the middle of a field and I began to pull kites from the bag.  I found a 24-inch traditional diamond-shaped kite that seemed to be a good starter kite for her and began to assemble it.  The strong wind made it a challenge to even put together as things kept blowing away.  But soon, I had it complete and held it to launch for my granddaughter.

At first, she did not understand that to get the kite up in the air, you might need to run into the wind, not away from it.  After numerous crashes, she finally got the hang of it and I told her once it was up high enough, she would not have to run at all but just stand still and the strong upper winds would keep it aloft.

Oh, how excited she was when she achieved this!

As Mimi was helping her, I began to assemble another kite for Mimi to fly.  But before I could get the second one together, the strong wind broke the plastic center connector.  Without field materials to make a repair, it went back in the bag.

I then finished assembling the second kite, a wing-shaped flyer and gave that one to my granddaughter.  While she and Mimi were flying that one, I assembled my new kite which was much bigger with a 60-inch wingspan and made of much sturdier fabric rather than plastic.

In no time, I had mine aloft and it lifted so high into the strong wind that it began to release the string from my controller by itself with my hand jerking up and down all on its own from the strong pull.

I loved the feel of the strong tug of the string, a sensation I had not had in the decades since the last time I flew a kite.  I was in kite heaven!  And then as it soared even higher, the resonance of the wind harmonized with the kite vibrations and it began to sing down the string to my hand, just like an extremely long guitar string.  Now it was heaven with a choir of wind angels!

But soon, my granddaughter’s second kite also broke, the strong wind ripping the plastic eye from the kite where the string was attached.  It was then that it dawned on me that these were very inexpensive (less than $5) kites not really engineered to withstand the strong wind we were having whereas mine was a much better built $15 kite.

I returned to the bag and rummaged through what was left.  Turned out, there were a lot of empty packages and pieces of other kites with broken or missing pieces.  Even trying to put together pieces from different kites failed to render a workable one.  I next tried a very small box kite but after assembling it, it would just twist around in the wind and not take flight.

I found the last unopened kite, an oval-shaped one and quickly assembled it while my granddaughter strained to keep my kite from blowing away with the wind.

This last kite thankfully seemed sturdy enough to last awhile and so, finally we had two kites in the sky.

While saying what such a great time she was having, my granddaughter asked me how high up my kite was to which I guessed about 200 feet not knowing how long my string was (turns out I was off by more than a hundred feet as I later learned my kite string was 100 meters (328 feet) long).

When I glanced at the time on my watch, I was amazed to discover that we had been flying for well over an hour.  My how time had flown!  It took me an additional 15 minutes just to real mine in, 3.5 inches at a time as I rewound the string onto the controller so that my granddaughter could try to catch the kite’s tail, another fun game.

As we made our way back to the car, I told my wife I was so glad I had returned home to get the kites to which she readily agreed.  It had been a sheer pleasure for both of us to see and hear the excitement in our granddaughter’s voice on her first ever kite flying.  I also said we should buy more kites like mine for the next time.

I bought my kite when she was barely two years old thinking like her dad when he was young, that she might one day love to fly kites.  While it had been many years since I had enjoyed the thrill of kiting myself, an activity long overdue, it was made all the more enjoyable reliving that pleasure and combining it with our granddaughter’s first such outing.  Not only had I resurrected my love for kiting, but I had introduced it to my third generation!

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