How my kiting experience began ... and continued.
It was a little before Christmas in 1989, I was doing my Christmas shopping in Seattle, looking for 'special' gifts for my family back in Cleveland, Ohio. My Dad, 76, had recently had a hip replacement and could no longer bowl, which was his 'active sport' outlet. It was hard on him as he really enjoyed his bowling. I really wanted to get him something unique.
While wandering around checking out the shops in the Seattle Pioneer Square district near where I lived on Bainbridge Island, a kite in the window of Great Winds, a truly wonderful kite shop that unfortunately is no longer there, caught my eye. It was a tumbling star with a white center surrounded by 6 rainbow hued cells. Neither my Dad nor I flew kites, but I thought he might enjoy it and hoped it would help him get active again. I didn't bother to shop around any more and bought the kite right away along with line and a hand made hardwood winder.
When we gave out presents in Cleveland on Christmas Eve, I made sure my Dad got the winder first. All the family members found it intriguing but nobody could figure out exactly what it was. Later when my Dad opened the kite he was excited like a little kid in a toy store. It was a white Christmas that year, bitter cold with a moderate wind, and of course my Dad insisted we go out and fly the anyways. It was cold but great fun!
As the weather got better my Dad really got into flying the kite, so I decided to go back to Great Winds and get one of my own to have something else in common that we could talk about. I went for a dual line kite, I don't remember what it was, maybe a Hawaiian Team kite, and started flying.
My Dad continued to delve into kiting, frequenting some of the kite shops in the Cleveland area. Back in Seattle and in the Bay Area where I worked I did the same, going to kite festivals, buying more kites. My Dad got into stunt kites too with a 3 stack of Trlby's.
Back in Washington I heard about the WSIKF, so I booked us a room for the week in a B&B near Long Beach and flew my Dad out. At the kite festival we were excited like little kids. The weather was great the winds were perfect, and my dad was chuffed when people came up to admire his shooting star (Apparently it was a somewhat desirable model).
After that, I kept buying kites and finally happened upon the Little Sister from Wolfe designs in France which fit me like a glove (in another post on this forum it's described as "slightly mental"). I spent a lot of my spare time flying. My Dad bought more kites and continued to fly too, one notable addition was a colourful long stack of small kites.
Several times in the following years my Dad came out for the WSIKF or other big kite events. We were just two rather old boys with their toys, playing, talking, hanging out. I was really special to spend so much time together just having fun and talking about kites on the phone every week in the times between.
As the years went by eventually health problems made it difficult for my Dad to fly. We still talked about kites on the phone all the time and my intense involvement continued for quite a while.
Life got rather complicated for me in the late 90's, and I retired to a more simple life. My Dad's health deteriorated and he wasn't able to travel. Eventually I found some other interests and stopped flying. The kites didn't make it with me when I moved to Oz in early 2000.
Well it's Christmas again and there's a new JJF Excalibur on the way. I wasn't thinking about this Christmas and kite connection with my Dad when I began thinking about a new kite, I was just looking for a new toy. But now as Christmas approaches I can't help thinking about my Dad. For me kites are intimately tied up with countless loving moments we shared over the years.
My Dad passed away 6 years ago on the day I arrived here in Merimbula, NSW. For me this is an emotional but not sad story. The years we shared our passion for kites were priceless, I feel deeply blessed for the all the Joy that started with a Star in the sky that Christmas 21 years ago.
Thanks for reading.
Merry Christmas and Good Winds!