Friday, March 19, 2010

Go Fly A Kite!

There was just enough of a breeze yesterday that I could fly my kite. Not so much that it wanted to yank it away, but a mostly steady series of zephyrs that kept my salamander aloft.

It’s a beautiful kite, don't you think?  It easily climbs up and takes hold. As it sails, the hind feet of the salamander rustle in the wind, waving at me!  What's really nice, is that I don’t have to run forever to get it sailing. It seems to know where to go from the moment I set it free! We have big open fields, out here JOTOLR and yesterday, I took full advantage. In fact, the pictures you see here were wonderfully fun to take. MM was nowhere around, so I got my kite up and flying, had my camera in my right hand, the kite in the left and managed to get a bunch of pretty cool kite-flying pictures!

China is still a great place for kites.  They were prevalent in China before the beginning of written history. The Chinese used bamboo for the frames and silk for the coverings and also for the flying lines. Of course, the Chinese invented paper, too, so kites were made of various types and weights of paper, as well. Of the many uses, an intriguing one is that they were used for individual or family security system. Using a sounding device –sort of a flute made from perforated reeds of bamboo, the kites were flown over a house throughout the night to frighten away thieves
and bandits.

The Chinese also fished with kites. Fishing line was tied to the kite’s long tail. At the end of a string, a baited hook was attached. When the fish would bite, the fisherman pulled in the kite, bagged the fish, and sent the kite into the sky again, with a re-baited hook on the tail.

In rural China, where numerous birds would often swarm down on vulnerable crops, farmers would have their children fly kites with firecrackers tied to the tails. Slow- burning incense attached to the fuses set off the firecrackers at varying time spans, scaring the birds away.

In today’s China, during the first part of September the weather, with easterly winds, is an excellent time for kite-flying, more so than is usually the case. So, the time from the first to the ninth of September was established as The Festival of Ascending on High. After school, students fly kites of all shapes and designs. (The source of my information is a book entitled Chinese Kites: How to Make and Fly Them, by David F. Jue. It’s a superb book, featuring not only the history and uses of kites, but a whole section on building various types. The ISBN number of the book is 0-8048-0101-0. The Library of Congress Catalog Card No. is 67-16412). Mr. Jue, a native of China, shared plans and directions for making all manner of spectacular traditional Chinese kites in his book, including a Pine Tree kite, a School House kite, an Octagon, a Butterfly, a Fish kite…and so much more! Generously, he provided directions for flying them, as well.

Back to the Festival of Ascending on High...On the ninth day of the festival, the schools declare a holiday so that all can fly their kites as long as they want. At the end of the day, when they’re done flying, they let the kite go, string and all. With that, all the evil, bad luck and sickness are carried away with the kite. Anyone who finds a kite after it has fallen to the ground must burn it, sealing the promise of good luck to come. Sounds like a plan!

I bought my salamander from Walmart.  It sold for the grand price of $5, and it came with string and a cool winder. But, even so, I believe I will try to make my own kite next year. Just for fun!  Then again...instant gratification is so lovely when the March breezes appear!  Maybe I'll stick with store-bought...

Finally, kite FIGHTING is very popular in China. Participants put special care into the design and construction of each kite. The flyer coats about a hundred feet of the flying line, nearest the kite, with glue, and applies powdered glass to it. This makes an abrasive surface which the flyer uses to try to saw through the flying line of the opponent. The kites in this competition are highly decorated and the spectacle is grand! The contestants send up their kites and position themselves some forty to sixty feet apart. The kites are flown at a lower angle to the ground than normal flying. At this low angle, according to Jue, the kites “tend to dart and dodge in fast swoops.” The object is to entangle an opponent’s string, and then try to saw it so it breaks, sending the opponents' kites high into the atmosphere.

Up, up and Away......

It seems like such a beautifully sensible and pleasant way to make war. Maybe militaries throughout the whole world should consider kite-making and kite-flying instead of guns and bombs.

And, by the way....have a lovely weekend, everyone!  Looks like it's going to be a good one, why not Go Fly A Kite!?


  1. What fun! You have given me an idea -- to buy a kite or two and fly them with my grandchildren when they visit. Your sky in the background is beautiful and your kite guy is awesome as my grandchildren would say. -- barbara

  2. Great idea!! I don't want to blow Walmart's horn too much, here...just on principle! But.....not knowing how old your grandchildren are...wanted to mention that Walmart has some "teeny" kites. There are butterflies, I think there are some salamanders. Really inexpensive ($1.25 ea. if I recall) , each with their own string and winder. I was tempted to buy a couple just to see how they flew...but wouldn't it be something to have a bunch of them in the air all at one time. I am totally dedicated to enjoying "childish" things! Elora