The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

March 15, 2013

March is the perfect time to fly a kite

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The Daily Star

---- — March is one of those funny months. Winter is trying to hold on and spring is knocking at its door.

I want to get in a few more days of skiing, but the recent rains and warm days are making it a little more difficult. The guys who ice fish can find enough ice, but before long, it will be difficult to get out onto the frozen surfaces.

On the other hand, avid golfers are chomping at the bit to get out onto the courses. I could go on and on, but you know what I mean. March is the in-between month. It’s not really winter and yet, it’s not quite spring.

The other night, I woke up and could hear the wind blowing really hard. Those March winds reminded me of a time in my youth when we took up kite flying.

We bought inexpensive kites in the local five-and-dime stores. Oh, that’s a term that many of you don’t know. Well there were stores such as Woolworths and J.J. Newberry that sold just about everything at a reasonable price. They had everything from a small food counter to clothes, toys and hardware. Every town had one.

Anyway ...

Those thin paper kites just didn’t do it for us kids in the neighborhood. We wanted something bigger that could fly higher. After all, what fun was it to hold on to a short string with a thin, paper kite that flew just a few feet off the ground?

One day, we got our neighbor to cut us some long, thin, wooden slats on his table saw. By the time we were done, we had constructed a kite that we thought could reach the stars. It was huge compared to those little store-bought models.

We collected every ball of string and bit of twine that we could find and waited for just the right day. The March winds finally howled one Saturday morning, so up the hill we went.

With a tail made from strips of old bed sheets to hold it steady, we launched our monster kite. Up, up, up it went into the strong, steady breeze. We kept adding more and more string as it rose higher into the sky. Maybe I remember it being higher than it actually was, but no one else we knew put a kite 300-400 feet into the air. From the hill behind the house it hovered high above the neighbor’s chicken barn.

It was a great adventure for us at that time. Four young boys reached higher into the sky than anyone else around. With a little bit of planning and youthful ingenuity, we explored the heavens. Remember, putting a man on the moon was still science fiction back then, so this was a big deal.

Kites have changed a lot today. There are unlimited shapes and designs, from multi-boxes to 3-D style artistic wonders. The sky’s the limit? Not anymore.

Kites have been adapted for all kinds of activities as well. I watched a guy on a surfboard being pulled at amazing speeds across the water by launching a kite up into the wind and hanging on to 100 feet of rope. Yeah, kiteboarding or kitesurfing looked like a lot of fun until you have to turn around and get back to where you started. But son of a gun, he did it.

So if someone tells you to go fly a kite, a windy March day seems like the perfect time to do it.

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at robrockway@hotmail.com.