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The art of kite flying

Published April 17. 2010 09:00AM

It's been a beautiful spring so far and I became reacquainted with one of the simpler pleasures in life, flying a kite. It all started a month or so ago when we were watching Curious George with Kathryn. In one episode, George flies a kite belonging to his friend Bill and as one thing leads to another George ends up actually flying on the end of the kite string. His friend, the man in the yellow hat, rescues him and saves the day.

Kathryn was enamored with this whole idea of wanting to fly a kite, so we found an inexpensive one during our grocery trip and I purchased it for my eager little girl to fly with Daddy's help, of course. Of course this was a few days before the last snowstorm we had in March so our kite flying debut was delayed by a few weeks. Finally, the perfect day came two weeks ago and we decided to give our new kite a try.

We purchased a basic diamond kite with an extremely long tail that I had my doubts about leaving intact on the kite. I thought it would create too much drag so we did trim it a little bit and we headed out to a spot away from power lines to fly our classic kite. I noticed when we arrived at the field the cross pieces I assembled ahead of time were bowed out away from the fabric. It seemed to be due to the lengths being too large for the fabric. Everything was taut so I assumed it was supposed to be that way for some reason.

Those of you who live in Summit Hill know as well as I do that it doesn't take much to get a decent breeze on the hill almost anytime, but until one needs a certain speed, it is sometimes hard to appreciate a breeze not being strong enough. This day that was my problem. While the breeze seemed like it would work, it just wasn't steady or fast enough to support our kite.

On our first attempt, Kathryn looked at me and said, "fly kite?" with hopeful eyes. I told her we were going to do our best. I unrolled some twine while holding the spool and in the other hand I held the kite up. I felt that tug of the kite wanting to fly so I left it go and started hurrying into the breeze. I turned just as the kite went straight up about 10 feet, turned on its point, and came crashing top-first into the ground.

Fortunately there was no damage and we tried two or three times to get the kite flying to no avail. It turned into a frustrating cycle of letting it go, a quick rise and a mighty crash back to the ground. The wind seemed strong enough to get the kite into the air, but it just wasn't complying. As many of you know, a toddler's attention span is not necessarily conducive to repeated flying attempts and soon Kathryn had enough and wanted to go home. So seven minutes later I complied and we left, but I was determined not to be beaten.

Thank God for Google. I researched kite troubleshooting and learned the frame should be taut against the fabric or the kite would do exactly what it was doing to us. I managed to get the cross pieces tight against the fabric instead of being bowed and we were ready to try again when the weather was right.

On Sunday, there was a breeze again. This one felt a little stronger and more steady than the previous day we tried to fly our kite, so we headed back to the field. Kathryn insisted on carrying the kite while she delegated the twine to me. We walked across the field from the road to our "spot" and I said to her, "Let's try here. Please let the kite go or throw it up."

Now, I know that two-year-olds are not the most obedient humans in the world and most of the time any request receives a challenged measure of resistance, but in this particular case, Kathryn was happy to comply and having seen kids and George fly kites on television, she decided to try on her own. With a large shove as big as any two year old can muster, in one movement the kite went over her head immediately catching a breeze. I reeled the line in slightly and the kite shot up like a rocket straight for the sky.

I don't know who was more excited, Kathryn or me. She ran over to me and asked to fly it. After I got it steady, I latched the string in the catch on the spooler and handed the twine to my eager little girl. Smiling she took hold of the spool and proudly said, "Look, Daddy, flying kite." I don't know who smiled more, her or me, but we were really having fun together. The steady breeze helped us keep the kite up for several minutes. In fact it was long enough to allow Katie to get her kite shaped like a lady bug up in the sky with Kathryn as a launcher.

In our kite flying session, they came down only about three times and each time with luck and some skill I believe, Kathryn was happy as she re-launched them every time. It was definitely a fun family moment and like most involving a two year old, it was a moment over in about six and a half minutes. That afternoon Kathryn went home for a nap happy and satisfied at having logged her first kite flying successes and Daddy came home remembering how much fun the simple things in life can be. Thank you, my darling daughter.

Til next time…

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