From K- 5th grade I was on the winning streak of a lifetime. I won BINGO every consecutive year at Fun Night (save one year when I was banned from Fun Night due to Streep Throat). If you’re not familiar with Fun Night, you are missing out. Each year our elementary shool hosted a carnival themed fundraiser on a fall Friday night. You got to bring your whole family and bought tickets to participate in activities: face painting, spin-the-wheel, beanbag toss, get a giant fake boil on your arm to freak out your parents – you get the picture. There were two marquee events in the gym; the Cake Walk and BINGO.
I was amazing at BINGO. Every single year I won, and every single year I chose a cheap plastic kite as my prize. This was during my phase of obsessively watching Mary Poppins so I’m pretty sure I selected the kite as an excuse to burst into “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” seven million times a day. Although I’m sure my parents took me to fly said kite at some point, I don’t remember it. Knowing my family, it probably went a little something like this: I haphazardly put together the kite, my dad fixes the kite, we immediately get it stuck in a tree.
Even though it is very likely I have participated in kite flying in my early years, for the purposes of this blog, if I don’t remember it, it didn’t happen. Besides, the plastic versions I recall receiving each year at Fun Night were essentially garbage bags on twine. The traditional Wal-Mart kite has strayed fairly far from the ancient Chinese invention of 800 BC. We can’t be sure, but I don’t think they imagined that the ir magic flying device would be capitalized into an activity reserved for six year olds.
During my adventure to the Nygaard household, I eagerly agreed to fly the “adult kite.” Sadly, the adult kite did not feature any inappropriate photos or swear words; but it did have an air of maturity to it. This was not the kind of kite that could be haphazardly left in a big oak tree if you lost control.
The large triangular nylon kite had two strings equip with reinforced handles to slip your hands through. Connor helped launch the kite, pushing it towards the sky, as the wind enveloped it in a flash of blue. In a matter of seconds it was at full height, being skillfully driven by Brent’s easy hand gestures.
With the two handles, he could easily drive the kite, left and right. When the wind caught the kite and pulled it off course, Brent made a gentle tug on one of the strings to straighten it out. A simple flick of the wrist could send the kite spinning in controlled circles. It was mesmerizing to watch. It was easy to understand why flying a kite has been a pastime for 2800 years.
After several minutes, Brent handed over the handles. ZOOM –and – nose dive! Conner helped us get it back up in the air. It was flying well until I tried to make a correction, spreading my hands far apart instead of gently pulling down. BANG! The kite took another total nose dive; although this time I managed to land it on its feet perfectly – albeit accidently.
During my next attempt, when Conner launched the kite towards the sky, the wind gave a huge huff, tugging the kite upward, daring it to break free from its constraints and explore the never ending blue sky. The handles give a quick, firm pull. The kite was planning its escape! It pulled me to my tip-toes, daring me to let go. Clearly the wind hadn’t adequately explained the risks of flying without strings. If I were to let go, the wind would certainly abandon the poor kite, leaving a tree, power line, or corn field to deliver certain death. I held on, but never quite got the hang of maneuvering the kite. It was much harder than it looked.
In an era filled with fireworks, zombie killing video games and a seemingly unending supply of youtube videos ,the entertainment of flying a kite is outmatched – which is a shame. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon outdoors with friends. Everyone took turns flying, launching and cheering. While I don’t expect to be purchasing a fighting kite anytime soon, I am glad I had the opportunity to enjoy the simple joy of watching a floating blob flicker in the wind. It was good wholesome fun. No zombies killed and no cats were forced to ride a Roomba. It was real breath of fresh air (pun intended).