Early in the afternoon we cycled down to Roncesvalles Ave to do some shopping. There was a troop of street performers doing theater; climbing on top of newspaper vending machines, climbing street lamps, striking poses, that sort of thing. It was fun to watch. After a few minutes a young girl approached and handed us a brochure, "There's also a kite festival in Sorauren Park at 3 o'clock," she said over her shoulder as she walked away.
That clinched it for us. Both of us remembered the beautiful old kite tucked away in the upstairs closet that Elizabeth had given me for Christmas in 1987, the year we were married. I hadn't flown that kite in years. We knew what we'd be doing later that afternoon.
Sorauren Park is a short walk from our house. Just before 3 o'clock as I was taking the kite out of the closet I felt a pang of apprehension. The day was very blustery, winds gusting to about 60 kmph or more, I think. In some ways a great day for a kite. But in other ways dangerous too. The kind of conditions that makes kite flying both fun and treacherous.
When we arrived Sorauren Park was full of people trying to get their kites off the ground. Most were having trouble, it was just too blustery. But this beautiful kite of mine took off almost at once, a multicolored bird. Ready to soar. Free from its years in the closet. All around me I was aware of people laughing and pointing as my kite flew higher and higher. I looked around and saw that out of all the other kites only one was flying higher than mine. The bar had been raised. I let out lots of string. Then some more.
My kite wanted to fly.
All of sudden, I don't really know why, I began to loose control. Then regained it. Whew I thought, that was close. The park was really too small and too surrounded by trees to be flying my precious kite. But I was caught up in the moment. I continued anyway. The wind howled one moment and grew still the next. Then without warning my kite started to spiral and dive. There was nothing I could do. It spiraled down and down and in one last big power dive headed straight for the roof of the old, abandoned factory that stood at the edge of the park. I tried everything but was powerless to stop it. Down it went, hesitated for a moment then disappeared behind a smoke stack. I could almost feel the thud as it stopped dead.
"Oooooh", went the crowd. "Oooh my God!", someone said.
My heart went into my mouth. I was barely aware of anything else. Trying to save face at one point, I joked out loud, "Someday some lucky demolition guy is going to find a really nice kite."
All I could do was begin to walk the three or four hundred meters to a fence that surrounded the factory; working the string occasionally, hoping for a little good fortune. Suddenly, I couldn't believe it, a flutter of hope. With every big gust the tail of my kite fluttered into view, trying valiantly to be seen above the edge of the rooftop. For the next ten minutes, I walked closer and at an angle pulling every now and then. Watching the tail of my kite flutter and hoping against hope. But deep down I knew the awful truth. There was little I could do.
Then all of a sudden (and for no apparent reason) in the wake of a huge gust of wind, my kite rose above the rooftop. Completely on its own and not just the tail this time but the whole thing. I couldn't believe my eyes. The crowd cheered behind me. I was barely aware of them. My kite was freeing itself. The kite that wouldn't die.
"Oooooh", went the crowd. "Oooh my God!", someone said as my beautiful kite rose triumphantly high above the roof that held it captive a moment before.
It shook its tail and went higher and higher. I couldn't believe it. Neither could anyone else. For the next five minutes I franticly reeled my kite in, bringing it closer and closer. I'd had enough.
Suddenly a kite flyer behind me got his going too. Up his kite went, higher and highter then all of a sudden its string wrapped around mine. Oh no! Another catastrophe. My kite was caught. I watched as my kite spiraled out of control again. This time into a tree just inside the barbed wire compound of the factory that held the kite captive a moment ago. The situation was not so bad this time. In fifteen minutes, winding the string as I walked, I was next to the tree that held my kite.
A quick run home, a telescopic tree pruner and we were in business. With Elizabeth's help the kite was extricated from the tree with only a few strands ornamental fringe torn away. They too were rescued and with a little sewing work, the kite sits in its closet again. Good as new.
And incredibly, Elizabeth was able to document the whole episode with some really good photos.
And you might ask? What happened to the kite that flew the highest that day? A sad ending. Somehow they lost control too. Their kite was set free and was last seen flying out over Lake Ontario several miles away. At least we think so, it had been that high and the wind was that strong.
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