Go Fly A Kite


Another birthday has come and gone. My birthdays are always slightly melancholy events. I was adopted, from birth, and have never actively sought out my biological mother, so when my birthdays come around I spend some time wondering about the woman who held me inside her for nine months and then gave me away. There’s no animosity, only complex layers of emotion including confusion and curiosity.

The advent of spring generally assuages my melancholia, but this spring has been particularly painful for a lot of us. A series of tragedies has struck, leaving us hurt and bewildered; at least that’s how I feel. I’ve been trying to pull comfort from Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s awesome remake of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, but while the show seems to blow my mind every four minutes or so, it fails to soften the pain in my heart. Even my poor puppy Archie, who is generally an endless source of humor, has taken ill with some kind of a stomach problem. It’s been a trying time.

Cue Angry Bird and Barbie

Trish bought me a couple of inexpensive kites for my birthday—an angry bird, and a Barbie themed model. The angry bird kite is shaped like a bird and flies erratically—swooping and diving. It is currently stuck in a high branch of one of the oak trees on the farm, and only time will tell if the tree releases the kite intact. The Barbie kite is a traditional elongated diamond shape, with two long, pink streamers that serve both as a tail to keep the kite balanced, and as visually stimulating ornaments.

I’d forgotten how much joy one can get from the simple act of flying a kite. Thinking back, I guess I really haven’t done it since I was a kid. When I told my mom Trish got me a couple of kites for my birthday she reminded me that my childhood birthdays tended to be kite-themed, on account of March’s reputation as the windy month.

It’s blustery today, as opposed to breezy—so there is a heavy element of randomness to the kite flying. The wind will stop for minutes, and then pick up quickly, and sometimes violently. It takes several abortive attempts before the kite catches a breeze and soars upward. The wind will buffet the kite, pushing it dangerously close to tree tops or causing the fabric to ripple and flap. Occasionally I find my breath catching in my throat as the streamers from my four dollar toy brush the tops of an oak. It’s delightful, mirthful, and joyous. When the wind and the kite and myself all come together in the right way, there is Barbie’s cartoon face high above, illuminated in the sunlight, and smiling down at me. The streamers dance and shine. All the randomness and chaos and turmoil and confusion in this strange, awful, wondrous, amazing world collide and collude to create a simple moment of peace and pleasure.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.