Go Fly a Kite

It’s funny the little things that remind you of other things.

Right now my neighbor and his three kids are in our cul-de-sac, running around with an octopus kite. The sound of giggling and flip-flops is wafting in through my front windows, making me smile.

And making me remember going to the beach as a kid.

My dad loves kites. For as long as I can remember, there’s been a kite or two in the garage – sometimes even crazy cool box kites or stunt kites that look like stealth airplanes. On windy days he’d schlep my brother and I out to fields behind schools and office buildings, and we’d try to fly them, but it doesn’t often get windy enough in the hills of central New Jersey to pull off flying a kite like that for very long.

The beach, however, is another story.

Every trip to the beach involved a kite of some kind – big or small. I think the current kite is a big long spiral, black with bright jewel toned panels, that flies easily in a breezy beach wind. Setting up the kite was as much a part of going to the beach as setting up the chairs or putting on sunscreen or finding the appropriate sand-castle-building tools (that’s another blog post, for another day).

Because, you see, kites on the beach are more than just fun.

They’re identification.

I can remember being told “and if you can’t find us, go to one of the lifeguards – they’re the people on the big red towers – and tell them you’re lost, and that your dad has a big blue and yellow box kite”. And a well flown kite on the beach can be seen for quite a long way. So we’d run like idiots until we got the kite up high enough to catch the sea winds, and then tie it to … something. A chair, a beach pavillion, a really big rock. Basically anything that would hold it.

Sometimes “can hold the kite” is a bit of a gamble. I’ve seen kites drag beach chairs, unwind themselves from tent stakes, and otherwise randomly wreak havoc.

I’ve also seen kites mysteriously untie themselves and make a break for it, tearing down the beach at full speed in a quest for freedom.

This results in having to chase down the kite – on one occasion, with my brother running full tilt down the beach, waving his arms and yelling “NO, KITE! COME BACK!” We always did manage to find them though. Or at least, I don’t remember ever truly losing one. I can remember a few /broken/ ones… but that’s not quite the same.

Still, I can’t think of kites without thinking of those memories, of beach vacations and running down hills and hanging out with my family. I count myself pretty lucky. (And I hope, someday, the kids running around in the cul-de-sac with the big, pink, octopus kite will have their own fun memories.)

Anyway, that’s my storytelling moment for the day.

You can go back to your Saturday now.