Thursday, September 18, 2008

A passel of children, ten years to ten weeks, their grandparents who had become the bourgeoisie that they railed against in their youth and the middle generation at once child and parent, proper Bobos all. Mostly anyway a pair of couples who are short of a commitment and a few singletons, fortunately I wasn’t alone. The day was Juliette’s family gathering in a park outside the city. A beautiful late summer afternoon, warm without being hot, a light breeze for the all important kite flying.

The adults say they do it because the children love it, but they secretly love flying kites themselves. Every year my father pooh-poohs modern kites as plastic illusions that take no skill to fly and talks of the kites of his youth, handmade in a diamond shape of paper, a couple of sticks with one of his mother’s old silk stockings for a balancing tail. The older men nodded in agreement and one mentioned box kites and other shapes. We middlingers simply rolled our eyes and wondered who opened the cognac so early.

This year I called his bluff and brought along some paper, tape, scissors, several sticks and a few old pairs of my stockings. When the kite talk started I sprung my surprise, my father eyed me, knowing he’d been challenged and my returning smirk was enough to have him pick up the gauntlet. With the children and the old men looking on, he and Juliette’s brother-in-law began the building.

They constructed four, three diamonds and a box and then it was time for them to fly. This had all our attention, grandfathers and grandchildren to the ready; while in the peanut gallery wagering had begun. The first diamond went up and blew apart a few meters off the ground; the box didn’t get that far. The last two went up together, one streaking to the sky and then inverting; plummeting to the ground. The remaining one went up slowly, its pilot coaxing it into the air like a fisherman landing a fat trout on a light line. The children squealed as it rose to the height of the nearby oaks and then a gust of wind blew it apart.



Anonymous VJ said...

Always and forever, we mis-recall the exploits of our youth. It was always a golden time, or the time of great terror, much more thrilling than ever possible or imaginable.

But the materials we're shabby and prone to breakage. Homespun looked it, and lasted but a thrice. The real accomplishments here as elsewhere required real engineering & careful craft that has been forgotten down the ages. This is why accidents were common, and surviving them so challenging. Adding more lore to the tales of 'daring -do'.

Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ'

6:39 AM  

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