Sunday, September 17, 2006

Does anyone know how to fly a kite anymore?

Yesterday's weather was frustrating. It started in the morning (at my son's soccer game) with spitty, spotty rain. Toward the end of the game, a howling wind blew in. I checked the local weather site, and the wind was gusting at 45+ mph, with steady speeds of 20-25 mph.

It was looking like it was going to be a pretty bleak fall day. However, soon the clouds gave way to sun, although the wind remained. So, what to do with two kids (ages 3 and 7) on a sunny, windy fall day? Of course, you fly a kite.

Now, we live in Boulder, Colorado, so winds like this are not particularly remarkable. (Something about being nestled up against the foothills of the Rockies.) Therefore, you would think that kite-flying is a pretty popular activity. In fact, Boulder has one of the best kite stores I have ever been in. (I have only been in a couple, but it's a very cool store, regardless.) However, every time we go to our local park, we seem to be the only ones who know how to fly a kite.

I believe that kite-flying has become the victim of two conditions. The first is the popular belief that kids don't play outside as much. On these blustery days, maybe it is easier for kids to stay in to play on their Playstations, and maybe it is easier for busy parents to let them do so.

The second is that many parents, like myself, remember kite-flying being a complete pain in the butt. The traditional diamond kite, made with paper and two sticks and with a tail made of a strip of torn sheet with a few bows tied on to it, is a lousy thing to fly. Difficult to launch and difficult to keep airborne. When we were kids, how many times did we have to run with that kite to finally get it up in the air? Dozens? While kite-flying had a certain romanticism attached to it, the execution was always difficult.

Since my wife and I are big believers in kicking the kids outside whenever possible, and because we live in a very windy place, and because about five years ago we bought the coolest, easiest, modern kite (something like this), we fly kites all of the time. So that's what I did with my boys yesterday.

We went to our local park, where there were about two or three other families trying to fly kites. Our brain-dead-simple kite went right up with no effort. (It doesn't even require someone to launch it. The pilot can just hold it in the air and play out string as it ascends right from his hand.) After other families struggled with their kites, several of them ended up flying ours. Eventually, my boys and I went to play on the playstructures while others flew our kite. (One kid was named Raffy [Raphael], such a typically-Boulder unusual name.)

I think I have become a kite ambassador in our park, introducing families to the joys of flying technologically-advanced, economical, easy-to-fly modern kites.
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