A redwing blackbird sitting on a fence post.


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Go Fly A Kite


Category: General

It?s getting close to the end of March. Though it?s been colder than usual for these parts, March is still kite weather. I don?t always get out to do so, but I always like celebrating the arrival of Spring by flying a kite.

I find kite flying much more enjoyable as an adult than I did as a kid. In youth, you never knew why the kite would or would not fly. It was cold out. The adults tried to help but, because you didn?t understand what was going on, it seemed like they were more trouble than they were worth. So basically you got to stand in the cold wind on muddy ground and watch your kite occasionally fly.

Things weren?t always bad. My father worked most of the time but he got out to help once in a while. He was able to describe why the kite needed a tail. He could usually show a little more patience with us children. That didn?t always help keep the kites in the air. Kite after kite would dive straight into the ground.

As an adult, the hard part is finding a kite. I looked around at a few toy departments. They had kites, of course. Unfortunately I?m not the biggest supporter of DragonBall Z or Bratz and feel that I might be doing some false advertising if I fly kites with that branding. To make matters worse, the kites seemed a bit, uh, shall we say Temporary? I have no real evidence that this is the case. It was more of a feel.

Eventually I found myself on the side of town with the Toys R Us. I popped in and found that they had a couple of kites that wouldn?t embarrass me too much. Though brightly colored (a desirable characteristic in a kite) they had no characters on them. The kite material was a nylon-like cloth and the supports were a plastic of some sort. I had a winner. I bought two for about three dollars each.

This afternoon, I realized that I hadn?t eaten all day. The cupboard wasn?t bare but it was disinteresting. That meant a trip out. A simple burger at the local Burger King restaurant is about 450 milligrams of sodium. That?s easily in my diet?s range. I hit the drive through and then drove to the park to feast on the little thing.

The kites were still in the back seat of my car. The sun shone down warmly through the windshield. Then wind blew. Yep, it was kite weather. As soon as I finished my burger I went out to fly the kite.

Putting the kite together was fairly simple. The cloth was affixed to the long member. The short member flexed easily enough to slide it into the pockets on either side of the cloth. The kite had a pre-attached string with a ring to which I tied the proper kite string. The rubber band kept the tail of the kite bundled for packaging.

I walked out into the clear area and glanced around to make sure there were no trees, power lines, or innocent bystanders. It is very important to always do that when flying a kite. Seeing that things were clear, I sent the thing up.

At Squaw Creek Park in Marion Iowa, the wind blows rather freely. That meant that a windy day elsewhere in the city was extra windy at the park. That turned out to be the case this day.

The short member of the kite was flexible enough to bend for assembly and was way too flexible to withstand the high winds. Just when I got the kite to fly nicely, a strong gust would squeeze the kite narrow (flexing that short member) thus reducing the surface face of the kite. Without the full face showing against the wind, the kite plummeted nose first into the soft soil.

For about half an hour I struggled with the thing. Often, the wind would slow and I could keep the kite up for a while. Other times, the kite collapsed almost instantly. Eventually, my knuckles were too cold to carry on and I gathered my things and left.

It may sound like I had a bad time. I did not. The whole thing was challenging and fun. I highly recommend it to everyone who is physically capable (unless you live in Pakistan where kite flying is illegal after a small boy had his throat sliced by an errant kite string). I plan on going back.

The cheap, pre-made kites are fun, but I may end up just making one. It just takes some dowels, some string, some newspaper (or wrapping paper, or light cloth), and some way to hold the paper to the string such as tape or glue. You?ll just have to remember that a tail is absolutely necessary. Also remember that the heavier the kite the stronger the wind you will need to fly it. You?ll also need kite string strong enough for your kite.

Go out and have a nice spring day.

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