Earth Journal
Vol. 9, No. 9
March 1-7, 2001
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Greet March with a Kite
By Audrey Scharmen

In some countries, kites are flown at a mid-January festival in celebration of the passing of the sun from Capricorn into Aquarius when the gods are awakening from their long sleep. Winter kite-flying, an ancient ritual I can understand, for in this especially gray time of year, when little snow has come to soften the hues and define the drab season, I feel a need to seek the shore and fly a kite.

To fly is to embrace the very soul of Nature. The ritual is rejuvenating. With each launching there is an immediate infusion of energy throughout the body, a heightening of the senses.

The first time I sent a kite aloft was on a Maryland beach beside a summer sea at dusk, with a full moon peering over one of my shoulders and the great orange sun setting on the other. Kites buzzed all around the beach and lay about the sand like enormous fallen butterflies. Most were fancy kites with complicated controls manned by real 'astronuts.' Mine was simply a single-line Delta, a small, graceful, silken little thing with very long tails, its stripes of bright primary colors a reflection of the scene. It had the look of an Aztec god as it snapped smartly in a sharp wind, soared high and swayed sensually in the darkening sky. I was struck with wonder.

A 40-ish friend, wearing a bikini and rollerblades, came up to me and remarked that the kite was perfect: one even a child could fly. Her words failed to diminish my joy and feeling of accomplishment. I was a child. I, in my late 60s and recovering from a serious illness that had left me with a lame leg. I - who had been told by those who know about such things, that I might never walk properly again - did not dwell on what I could not do but only on what I could. I might never ride a bike again or wear a pair of roller blades (nor a bikini). But I would stand barefoot in warm velvet sand in the glow of the sun and the moon and fly a kite.

It was something I had longed to do all my life. As a child of seven, tagging behind my older brothers with homemade kites slung smugly over their shoulders, I had begged to fly, but that was a part of their secret power they would not share with a mere girl-child. So I stood alone in the middle of a shorn field and watched them from afar. I shivered in the cold spring wind until distracted suddenly by the muffled cries of sandhill cranes high overhead in tangled skeins that filled the wide Kansas sky. I followed the birds until they drifted from sight.

Sixty years later, I eventually grew stronger, and with the help of my best friend - a real flyer - I graduated from single-lines to a dual-control stunt kite, a beginner's Luna I can easily handle alone. It performs with wonderful enthusiasm and a powerful sound like that of swans' wings when they fly very low overhead.

Kiting is a whole new way of communing with Nature: with winds, clouds, gulls and osprey. With each launching comes always that feeling of déjà vu, of rebirth. Perhaps that is why kite-flying is called Fishing for Angels.

Editor's note: The wonderful Annapolis kite store, Kites Up and Away, closes for good March 5. Get the kite of your dreams before it's too late.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly