Sunday, July 27, 2008

Go Fly A Kite!

I’ve had my share of kites as a kid. I remember ripping up cotton rags to tie as tails while Dad did the hard part of assembling the wooden cross and stretching the long diamond-shaped paper to each end. He had to tie the string on the frame and attach the tail too. I remember the joy of watching the kite rise and pull the string so tight it would cut my hand. I remember too the disappointment of watching my kite nosedive into the ground or worse head straight for the maple tree crashing into the branches beyond my reach.

My best experience handling a kite came one summer while vacationing in Ocean City, New Jersey. I spent $5 of my vacation money on a neon pink kite like none I’d even seen before. An oval shaped piece of Styrofoam fit into the center of a circular shape of Styrofoam. A spool of fishing line was tied to four places on the kite. When the ocean air gave it lift, the kite rotated faster and faster in a spin straining the 10-pound test line. The kite was called a flying saucer. It looked just like an orbital UFO from the popular TV show The Outer Limits. I sat on the beach for endless hours just holding the flying line and watching the kite spin in the wind.

Had I been inventive, I might have devised a way to anchor the kite without actually having to hold it myself all those hours sacrificing a swim. At the kite flying demonstration in Parksville, British Columbia, one cleaver flyer let a toy bunny hold his flying line. The bunny looked like the famous battery powered “Energizer Bunny”. Though it was anchored to the ground, it wobbled a bit but the bunny never let go as the wind off the Vancouver Island Strait of Georgia kept the kite aloft.

The bunny was just one of the delights among the elaborate displays set up by kite flying clubs. They assembled on the grounds of Parksville Community Park for this Saturday, July 19th kiting event sponsored by the Lions Club. That sunny afternoon, I watched several skilled men launch a kite nearly as long as a football field. When the wind finally stretched this kite full length, it made a line of white polka dots across the sky.

One fellow dressed as a Pirate interchangeably flew several kites as colorful and elaborate as his costume. Shapes and colors floated against the blue sky along with simple kites that looked like white handkerchiefs drifting in the breeze.

Then on the ground, there were some youngsters just learning about kites who were almost as much fun to watch those who have mastered the art of flying a kite.

July 19, 2008

Parksville, British Columbia

Vancouver Island, Canada

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