By Tim Hayes
High above the big backyard of our house flew the brilliantly colored, sturdily constructed pearl of tethered aviation, its tail fluttering at breakneck speed, winds and crosswinds buffeting with unpredictable power.
It felt like you had a wild bronco at the end of a rope, trying to keep this kite airborne and under some semblance of control, but my son and I had done a pretty good job of it to this point. Giving it more string as the wind swept it even higher, pulling it taut as the gusts leveled off, the kite soared into the stratosphere. We half-expected the girls to shout from the house that our kite had showed up on the local TV’s Doppler radar weather reports.
With no utility poles or lines to play defense against our kite-flying offense, and with sunny skies above and a brisk and steady breeze blowing, it started to feel like we could keep this flimsy flap of plastic flying indefinitely. The perfect day to fly a kite.
Until we ran into – literally – the kite-eating tree next door.
From terra firma, you can’t anticipate the gyrations and gymnastics of temperature, humidity, wind speed or direction that high up. A thin strand of white string, spooled out 300 feet or more at that point, represented our sole means of recourse and recovery. And, friends, on this otherwise glorious afternoon, that just wasn’t gonna cut it.
The kite swooped into a dive and we tugged on the string with all we had, sending the kite back skyward, before a powerful gust sent it into its final death spiral, plunging it finally into the thick, leafy branches of our neighbor’s towering oak – never to return to earth.
In my childhood memories, we had to build our own kites. You’d go to the neighborhood store, plunk down a quarter, and get a kit. Two flimsy wooden slats, a diamond-shaped chunk of paper with string inserted around the outer edges. Tail and string to fly the kite with not included.
Thinking metaphorically on it now, building a kite makes a lot of sense in the life of a young kid. The two slats formed a cross, representing the suffering to come when the kite either crashed to smithereens, got swallowed by a tree, or never got off the ground at all. The tail stood for the cruel illusion of control and direction, neither of which any of us ever truly have in life. Yet…you could fly! The only super power worth having!
That doesn’t mean the thought still never crosses my mind, though, about getting a kite and trying to send it soaring again. We’ve had some gorgeous days so far this spring, with brilliant sunshine and a steady wind. The neighbor’s oak still holds that kite from all those years ago – we can see its shattered and tattered remains, drooping way up there, during the winter months when the leaves have dropped.
It sure would be fun to give it another go, just to see if we could get it rising to those same dizzying heights, and actually bring it back down safely and in one piece this time. And really, isn’t that what we’re all trying to do, in one form or another, in this daily slog of life?
Like it says in the Bible, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.” You just have to go with the flow and make the best of every situation as it arrives. Kinda like flying a kite.
Copyright 2016 Transverse Park Productions LLC and Tim Hayes Consulting