Even though this is something we have done many times, the children were still having a hard time getting the hang of it. There was a wide open field and no lack of wind; it was rather the technique that was lacking. If you have ever read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, you know that the knack to flying "...lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." I think the same principle can apply to flying kites. Well, my son was doing a lot of throwing the kite at the ground, but each time he would "fail to miss it fairly hard" and it would drag and bob along the dried grass behind him as he ran for all he was worth toward the patches of poison ivy. Rather than the whimsical family outing I had hoped for, it was becoming more like a scene out of Peanuts.
Of course, he was not overly receptive to the advice of his elders. It wasn't until one of the volunteers came and offered his expert assistance, that he decided he would try doing it another way. We let out lots of string and I held the kite with my son at the other end. I threw it up while he pulled down, and ran a little, just for good measure. The kite caught the wind and up it went. We managed to get it so high in the air that we reached the end of the string. My daughter and father likewise were having success and the two kites danced and dipped in the sky.
At this point I was reminded of a book I saw once in a library. It was called Fishing for Angels: The Magic of Kites, by David Evans. As an experienced fisherman, my son really did look like he was trying to catch a big one, the way he worked the line was just how he would fight a trophy fish. I love that metaphor, the idea that we are trying to catch a little piece of heaven, casting our gaze upward, as if to say, come, dance, play--we are here. It is exhilarating, and at the same time, when a kite soars high into the sky, the whole world seems to get quieter. If you haven't done so lately, I highly recommend it: go fly a kite!