Miss Emma Carson stood at the edge of the lawn facing her large white Victorian house with its black shutters and lacey gingerbread bric-a-brac. Behind her spread miles of blue sky and towering cumulous clouds. Forsythia bloomed bright yellow nearby. Delicate red buds illuminated the branches of the maples that lined her circular drive.
She removed her white glove, touched her pointing finger to her tongue and raised that same hand into the air. A breeze slowly moved across the lawn, carrying with it the hint of wild onions and a bouquet of sweet spring aromas.
The fragrant breeze strengthened into a March gust. Miss Emma’s finger sensed the increase in velocity. The moment was right. In one swift motion, she removed her straw hat, wound up, and let it sail across the lawn.
Like confetti released from the hand of a partygoer, the children burst from the confines of the crowd, ran across the lawn and into the meadow as their laughter and colorful kites filled the air. All was well with the world as the annual kite party at the home of Miss Emma Carson got off the ground.
Okay, enough is enough. When I began writing this sugary sweet, very colorful portrayal of a kite flying social, I had every intention of following through to the end with all the wonderful adjectives. But I can’t. Forgive me. It’s all a lie. There is no Miss Emma. No Victorian home. And definitely no breeze carrying with it the hint of wild onions.
The truth is, I tried to bring you a wonderful March article about an old-time kite social that would warm your heart during these cool afternoons, but there’s just no way I can write such a story when I can’t stand flying kites. I know what you’re thinking. “What’s wrong with this guy? He also probably hates baseball, apple pie and Mickey Mouse.” For your information, I think Babe Ruth is an American hero. Apple pie is best accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream. And Mickey Mouse is cool even though he has an annoying squeaky voice.
First of all, there are the many dangers involved with kite flying. To promote the aerodynamics of a kite, one must attach a string to it and run across a wide, open space. When I was growing up, my wide, open space was a Fluvanna cow pasture. Have you ever run across a Fluvanna cow pasture? Let’s just say that if the opening scene of The Sound of Music was filmed in a Fluvanna cow pasture, Julie Andrews would have made a few spins, sung “The hills are alive with the—” and then she would have spent the rest of the movie in a cast after breaking an ankle in a ground hog hole. Not to mention what her good ankle would smell like after stepping in a few bovine deposits.
Okay, so you start running across the meadow and a gust of wind takes your kite upward. Lucky you. This is when your risk of injury really increases. It is obvious one should steer clear of power lines or his or her hair will be zapped into a style worthy of an extra on Starsky and Hutch. The scariest thing is when the kite begins making those uncontrollable loops in the air, sky rockets upward and then spirals downward toward the top of your skull. Several stitches in the back of your head are a small price to pay for a fun-filled afternoon of kite flying. Right?
Sometimes your kite successfully rises high into the wide blue yonder until it is a mere dot in the sky. Congratulations. You don’t win a thing. You just get to enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you have succeeded in getting your kite to soar until it is a mere dot in the sky.
There you are holding the cardboard spool on which the end of your unwound 1000 feet of string is attached while your kite precariously hovers in the fly zone of small private planes. You could just let it go. But you’d feel mighty guilty when the morning paper reads: “Officials Search for Owner of Runaway Kite that Brought Down Goodyear Blimp.” On second thought, you probably want to reel it back in.
Reeling in your kite is probably the most fun part of the whole experience. For every minute it takes to unwind the string, it takes approximately an hour to reel it back in. If you send your kite up just before supper, you might eat again by breakfast. And by the time your kite gets back to the ground, the muscles in your arms are on fire and you barely have enough strength to carry it to the house where you immediately toss it into the trash.
So let’s review: During an afternoon of kite flying, you could break an ankle, step in a pile of cow manure, get electrocuted, require several stitches, be arrested for downing a small airplane or the Goodyear blimp, faint from lack of sleep and food, and acquire a terrible case of soar muscles. Sounds like tons of fun to me.
The next time an angry so-and-so tells you to “go fly a kite,” maybe now you’ll understand just how insulting the comment is.