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April 19, 2009 / Maleesha Kovnesky

The Kite

AJ got a kite for Easter…a gift from his uncle.  It was a strange kite, clearly made in China (you could tell from the melamine dripping from it), and required inflation with a straw.  I’ve never seen a kite like this, but my son was very eager to give it a go while we were out on the farm today.  Since there is always a strong wind here in the spring, I knew that a great kite-flying day was in store.  Piece of cake.

9:01 AM

Step one, inflate the kite with the straw.  I blew into the straw and the kite slowly filled with air.  Huff and puff.  Finally the kite was taut.  I decided to give it one more “puff” of air for good measure.  Upon this final blow, the kite exploded with a “POP”.  The image of Buzz Lightyear was split in two.  My son stared at me with huge, disappointed eyes.  “No worries,” I said.  “Let’s just make a kite!”  We still had plenty of string.

AJ lit up with happiness.  “Yeah!” he said. 

9:42 AM

All the pieces for a MacGyver kite are gathered.  I cut up a chicken feed bag to use as the sails.  Some lengthy twigs for the structure.  A piece of surveyor’s ribbon for a tail.  A roll of duct tape.  It was so windy outside, I figured that anything would fly.  AJ watched, entranced, as I put together a prototype kite.  It was fun!  We were reusing everyday items and attaching them to a string to see if it would fly as a single unit.  A learning experience!  Something cheap, and simple!  Yet so much fun.  I tried to remember the last time I flew a kite.  I had never made a kite. 

Would it fly?

kite1

10:12

I attached the string to the top and we took it outside.  The wind was strong and cool.  AJ held the kite while I unrolled some string.  He let go.  The squarish kite hovered for a bit, then flipped strongly and crashed into the ground.  We tried and tried to make it fly.  I studied it in the air, and made some mental structural changes I would implement in round two. 

kite2

I attached the tail, folded the top corners down in a way that they might “catch air,” and tied the string in a couple different places.  We took it outside and tried again.  The kite wanted to fly. The wind was perfect!  The nearby birdhouse chock-full of wrens was very busy…the birds were zipping in and out…curious, watching our “bird” to see what it would do.  Truth be told, it didn’t do much.  Every couple tries, I would ask AJ to carry the kite to me from its crash site.  I would roll up the twine, make some adjustments, and try again.  I was sure that it would fly…we just needed the right gust.  There were improvements to be made, for sure. 

My dad glared at me from across the gardens.  He was planting the second of ten huge trees, and I imagine he could have used my help.  However, I was determined to make this stupid bag fly.

I took the kite inside the cabin.  I needed a good pair of scissors.  Just a few minor tweaks, and it would be there. 

“Where are you going, AJ?”  My son was walking toward the tree planting operations.

“I’m going to help Grandpa,” he said.  “I’ll come back when you make the kite work.”

Ouch! 

11:00

More adjustments resulted in a completely different structure.  kite3

The duct tape was getting out of control.  This design allowed for more air intake, and therefore lots of duct tape was needed to hold the kite together to withstand the gusts of wind.  It would be more of a para-sail than a traditional kite.  But why not go big? 

11:22

Several attempts resulted in failure.  Something was still off.  The kite desperately wanted to fly, I could feel it!  Ahh, I love a good challenge.  I was learning a lot.  I felt plenty “green” too…after all, there I was on an organic farm, shouldn’t I be making my own kite?  Recycling, keeping the earth healthy and all that?  Who needs a dumb plastic kite from Beijing?  Not us, that’s for sure ! Plastic kites are for suckers!  What a person needs…what a person really needs is a kite made from a feed bag and duct tape.  I was doing my part for the earth, keeping plastic out of our rivers and oceans! 

After much thought, I decided I was over-thinking the whole design.  A simple design is what I needed to try.  The wind was dying down as noon approached.  I knew that I needed to hurry and make these changes.

12:03

I trimmed the kite down to a lightweight piece of feed bag art.  AJ walked by on his way to get a juice box.  “You better come watch this, AJ,” I said.  “I think I’ve figured it out.” 

“Okay,” he said.  I could have sworn he shook his head in pity as he entered the cabin to get his drink. 

kite43

The wind was almost nonexistent.  Crap.  I waited.  My dad was over halfway done with the tree planting.  I felt slightly guilty, spending the entire morning on a silly kite.  On the other hand, when was the last time I made anything fun to play with?  I couldn’t even remember.  It was therapeutic.  Relaxing.  Enjoyable and real. 

The wind picked up.  The wrens circled above.  A pair of sandhill cranes flew over the river.  The wind was starting to get a bit gusty.  It was time.

12:05

“AJ!  This is it!”

I let the kite go.  The wind grabbed it and lifted lifted lifted it up into the air.  Higher and higher!  The roll of twine spun wildly in my hands as the kite soared toward the clouds.  The joy!  My feed bag was airborne!  Finally! 

“AJ!  AJ!  Hurry!” I yelled.  I heard him opening the door.  I looked toward the cabin, and he was there on the porch…but his attention was 110% focused on getting the straw in the juice box. 

“AJ!”

The tension in the string snapped.  I watched in a kind of horror as the feedbag took to the wind all on its own, now truly free as a bird, a long strand of white twine sailing away from me.  The wind crunched the bag in the air, and it flew across the river, down toward the bridge and out of sight. 

AJ walked toward me as the distant, renegade kite disappeared behind him.  “Can you help me with my straw, Mom?  

“Sure.”

“Where’s the kite?”  AJ looked around.

Probably choking a pelican right about now.  “The kite doesn’t work, honey,” I said.  “Let’s look for one this week, okay?” 

“Okay!”  AJ sipped his juice and skipped happily off toward the gardens. 

Not a care in the world!

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6 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. teeni / Apr 23 2009 8:33 am

    This is why I only do paper airplanes. Not nearly so much work and if they don’t fly, I can still use them to write a letter on. 😉

  2. MamaPeg is Watching Out for You / Apr 22 2009 2:53 pm

    Did you read The KiteRunner? I gotta tell you, I actually cried when I read it. I cry at shows and movies sometimes but I’m not a weeper by any stretch of the imagination – the KiteRUnner – I sobbed!

  3. curlywurlygurly / Apr 21 2009 4:46 pm

    you broke the child’s kite?! shame, shame! now, i must address your kite-making attempts. i understand that you are not orville wright…but seriously–a square kite? how about the good old diamond shape one? now that kite would have flown with ease (spoken like a true kite master…ha!)

    as a teen, i used to fly kites on the beach a decoy activity–i was really trolling for cute boys. my ploy worked on several occasions…lol.

  4. smalltownsmalltimes / Apr 21 2009 7:55 am

    Hmmm, this seems like a lesson in more than kite-making. 🙂

  5. megan / Apr 20 2009 9:00 pm

    I suck at kites. I’m fine once the kite is in the air, but I’ve never been able to get that far. A few years ago, in Puerto Rico, I bought some kid a piragua because he got my kite in the air, like it was no big deal.

    I’m impressed you made your own.

  6. MamaPeg is Watching Out for You / Apr 20 2009 4:28 pm

    Mama, that is one fabulous tail – get it????

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