Go fly a kite

Have you flown a kite recently? I haven’t, not since I was 14 or 15.
It was a kite I made myself, at that age when one starts to resist assistance and strike out on one’s own—outwardly certain and slightly over-confident.
My father gave me some hints as to aerodynamic design, weight considerations, and the like. He should know because he flew Liberators, for goodness sakes.
April is national kite flying month in the U.S. Not sure if Canada has anything quite so formal. I was born in April, so it seems logical that I loved kites.
Kite-flying began in China more than 2,000 years ago, so kites have a rather deep history and now their designs are limitless. But as with so many things, I like simple.
I made my kite in a standard “T” with some pieces of wood I found in my dad’s workshop, edges from having ripped a board to a desired width. These pieces of pine seemed practically perfect, just slightly flexible, concave enough to catch the breeze and soar to incredible heights—or so I imagined as I bound them together with bale twine.
I don’t recall the material I used to cover the body of the kite, but I do remember the tail. I found a whole stack of brilliant green tissue paper left over from Christmas wrapping. I made a long string of tiny bow ties, distracted for a time by my cat’s willingness to chase these cheerful ties.
I sacrificed a few from my inventory for my cat’s sake.
A kite needs a name or a statement of some kind. Airplanes and ships all have names, so, too, should a kite. I printed names of my favourite things on my kite, in case it broke free and travelled the world.
Someone finding it immediately would recognize this particular kite’s value.
What were some of those words I carefully wrote there, being certain not to tear through the paper? My memory is vague. Annie, for sure. Annie went everywhere with me, in spirit, so her name printed there was automatic.
That’s what you do when someone believes in you without limit or conditions.
Toby, my favourite frog, the one who lived for a time in a shoe box under my bed. Undoubtedly, my pony’s name was etched and other famous horses such as Champion (Gene Autry’s), Silver (The Lone Ranger’s), Trigger (Roy Rogers’). I think you get it.
It was time to launch. I almost could hear NASA and their radio static, “Houston, we have ignition.” Except I didn’t have ignition. I had more of a thump as the kite drove itself into the ground after lifting up about two feet.
No matter how fast I ran, crashes happened over and over, disillusionment set in, and I was considering ripping my kite to shreds.
Then my dad appeared, smiling the way he did. “Everything can be fixed,” he said, his mantra response for all my mistakes and shortcomings.
He flicked the string a couple of times as he ran slowly across the top of the hill. The wind caught the kite and climbed higher and higher. “Great kite,” he said, sounding breathless.
My kite bobbed and dipped and dived, but stayed airborne—its tail’s a brilliant green against the sky.
My amazement wasn’t with my kite, though; it was with my father. In that moment, I recognized that my father had been a boy and that boy still lived inside him where I hadn’t noticed it before.
I collapsed in the grass and watched him fly my kite and maybe it was then, in that moment, I vowed not to grow up. It’s been a tough promise to keep, but certainly a worthy one.
“Go fly a kite” takes on new meaning, doesn’t it, and I suggest you do.
wendistewart@live.ca

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