Happy spring. Please go fly a kite for me!
One thing you can always count on in Millard County, in addition to the decent people of the area, is the wind. The wind makes for either superb kite-flying or kite-shattering experiences. When I was a kid I had a great deal of sympathy for Charlie Brown and his lack of kite-flying skills, but the spring after my ninth birthday I stopped feeling sorry for him because I was dealing with my own kite woes.
Every March a bucket full of paper-covered balsa sticks would appear near the toy rack at Morris Mercantile. Word would spread like wild fire, "The kites are here" and all the kids in town would collect their quarters and head to the store. The way the paper was tightly wrapped around the wooden sticks made it impossible to tell what the design on the kite would be, so it was always a surprise after paying your 75ȼ and unwinding the paper to discover what your new kite looked like.
The kite I opened on the steps of the Merc in March 1971 had a yellow background with a bright red Chinese dragon emblazoned on the front. I excitedly ran home, asked my mom to attach a tail of fabric scraps, found several spools of string from previous years' kites, and headed to the pasture.
I carefully attached one end of string to the center of the kite, uncoiled a few feet of the twine, and tossed the kite into the incessant breeze. This routine usually had to be repeated over and over, but on this particular day, that new kite caught a draft which carried is straight up into the air. It spooled the string out so quickly, I had to grab the next ball of twine and the tie the ends together. The air current continued to pull my dragon kite higher and higher until the second spool of string was exhausted and the kite was just a yellow speck far off in the distance.
I was anticipating the bragging rights I would have at school the next day as I started winding the string around a wooden stake. I kept wrapping the string around and around bringing the kite closer and closer. When it was about 100 yards out, a sudden gust of wind grabbed it, spun it upside down, and slammed it to the ground off in the distance. I started walking and winding in the general direction of the fallen kite, exalting at the height it had achieved. I rolled and rolled as I walked past the chicken coops, I wrapped and wrapped as I passed the pig pen, I wound and wound as I approached the corrals. I saw the string was stretched over the top rail of the goat enclosure so I continued winding as I stepped on the bottom rung of the fence to peer over it to locate the landing place.
Oh, the horror that met my eyes as I pulled myself up to look over the goat pen. My kite had fallen right in with the goats and all that was left of it was some shredded yellow paper, the string, and the last bit of balsa wood support stick being chewed by the nanny goat.