Saturday, September 5, 2009

The fly-away kite

Here is our kite, back in October 2008. Exhibit A. Just in case you come across it...

because, yesterday it made a bid for freedom. The sun was shining, blue sky, high wispy cirrus above us and a strong wind in our faces. Not on the beach this time, but not far from it, there was a stretch of grass, then a gravel path, then some roped off scrub before the sand hit the sea. In my view a kite must have a tail and it's impossible not to smile, watching Max try to catch the ribbons as they curl and coil upwards chasing a pillow of inflated synthetic silk. You can see the excitement in Oli too, even though he's sedentary in the stroller. So while Max is doing his best to bring down the kite by yanking the tail, I am with Oli trying to get it to do tantalizing loops to keep everyone entertained. It is no easy feat when the kite only has one string and there's a gale keeping the grass horizontal. Then it happened. As always, far too quickly. A gust of wind and I dropped the reel, the one thing keeping this kite under any kind of control. As the spool started jumping across the grass I left Oli's side and began chasing it. I grabbed at it but the string was running out so fast it burnt my fingers. In my flip-flops I picked up speed, racing after the small coil of unraveling string. Max could sense the impending disaster.
'I want my kite back. Tell it to stop.' I could hear him yell, although his words were wobbling.
My plan was to jump on the string and save my hands. I closed in on it, but each time I stepped, my feet were inches from being effective. Ahead, I could see the roped-off scrub and felt convinced the string, the reel, something would get tangled in the fencing or the thicket beyond. But this kite could see Alcatraz, could see the sea, the city, it was so high now it could probably see the entire bay. It was stopping for no-one. When the spool bounced across the fence I realised I was running barefoot and and could hear a chorus of abandoned children in my wake. I turned to look at them; Oli in the distance, Max running after me, wet faced and red eyed. When I looked back to where the spool had been, it was no longer there and the kite was way above Alcatraz, an ever decreasing dark dot making a slow ascent into the blue. It was gone. I stopped, caught my breath and started walking back, retrieved my shoes and my wailing children. I wanted to reassure Max that it was fine, we'd get a new one. But it mattered to me too and I was just as annoyed. Annoyed that I'd dropped the spool in the first place, and that I hadn't caught up with it afterwards. Annoyed that sea birds might get caught in yard upon yard of nylon string, annoyed that I'd lost the kite, damn it. I said I was sorry, that it was my fault and that he was right to be sad, it was a shame. Oli was easier to console. His alarm was more likely to have been because be saw me sprinting away from him and could sense some of Max's despair. I foolishly suggested that Daddy, when swimming the Alcatraz challenge next weekend, might spot the kite and be able to retrieve it for us. As if a monumental fund-raising effort and an enormous physical challenge weren't enough...
This morning he wisely decided we should go straight out and buy a new one and return to the scene of the crime. Which we did. And this one has a much better handle.

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