This time of year they begin popping up just everywhere. One in a field next to the grocery store. One in a school yard. What are they? The first purple and yellow crocuses? No, the first thing to pop up and announce that spring is really here is the high-flying, fantasy-making kite.
Is there any activity that lifts our spirits like successfully flying a kite? When the trees and power lines are avoided and the wind is just right, even the novice can soar to success. Feeling the tug of the string and looking up as the kite battles the breeze like a bird flying into the wind lifts us above ourselves, above our daily responsibilities and worries.
No wonder kite flying is an international sport with associations and conventions to rival those of physicians, attorneys or engineers. For just $40 a year, serious kiters can join the American Kitefliers Association (aka: AKA) and receive regular newsletters, a magazine, instructional tips, and discounts on kites of every imaginable size and construction. Competitive Kite Festivals and Fun Flys are held all over the world, and you can keep up with these events on the organization’s website, www.kite.org.
Tradition tells us kites were discovered in China when the wind blew a hat off a farmer’s head. The hat was tethered to the ground by a string and so lofted into the air without blowing away. Kites were unknown in Europe for centuries until Marco Polo brought them back from his travels to the East. Then Europeans and later Americans used kites for all kinds of scientific and military purposes.
There are many famous kitefliers. Benjamin Franklin used kites to prove the existence of electricity in the air and then invented the lightning rod. The most well-known fictitious kiteflier is Charlie Brown of Peanuts. Who can forget his kite-eating tree?
One of the most celebrated kitefliers in Colorado was the late Frances Weaver. The famous author began her writing career by selling an article on flying kites to Vogue magazine after she founded the Beulah Valley Association for Tethered Flight. She even put “kitewriter” on her business cards.
Describing her love affair with kites in her book Midlife Musings, Frances said, “There’s magic in a kite. There is also joy, serenity, challenge and frustration. (That describes most love affairs when you think about it).”
I once found a pink Barbie kite in our garage that was left over from a visit by two small granddaughters. Seeing it brought back happy kite-flying memories! I’m not sure what brought the loudest giggles of delight from them. Seeing the kite in the air, or watching Grancy and Papa running through the field trying to get it aloft!
Our house overlooks a large park and often we see kites of all shapes and construction dipping and climbing in the sun. April is National Kite Month. Maybe this year I’ll pick up a kite again and join those watching their colorful kites dancing against the blue Colorado sky. Happy spring!