Issue 32: Blowing in the Wind

Hello again… This issue I’m offering you a look at a pair of works by one of my favorite kite authors – Jan Anderson. Believe it or not, I met Jan through a kite forum on the Internet. I enjoyed her work a great deal, so I emailed her to say thanks. We got to yakking through emails, and then we finally decided to meet up face-to-face. I’m delighted that we did, of course, because Jan’s one dandy kite pilot, and it’s a real pleasure to share a flying field with her anytime.

You don’t need all the history to read Jan’s “musings,” though… What you do need to know usually comes from the writing itself. Mostly, Jan’s works talk about the way the human spirit and kites interact – and when that occurs, her sensitivity to kites and to flight itself just comes roaring on through at you.

I’ll start out offering you a glimpse of Jan’s kite world with a remembrance called “Still Up There,” where Jan talks about the wonders of some of her first kiting experiences. The first time I read this delightful piece, it was written as a post on the “Gone With The Wind” kite forum.

Oh, and before you read any further, I should let you know that I’ve modified Jan’s works just a tad for better readability, but I’ve not changed a bit of Jan’s content…

Relax, ease on down, and… Enjoy!

Still Up There

I looked up as they passed. Inches off the water, and I know why they fly that low… to keep out of the wind. What wind? A flock of geese going somewhere… They’re supposed to stay south for a while aren’t they, so how come they’re back so soon? And flying so low with no breeze, and the bay looking like glass, giving the impression of two flocks instead of one…

That’s why I’m sitting in my car reading a collection of short stories about childhood memories. There ain’t no wind, darnit… (Colloquialism from a former country girl!)

I made a bunch of kites when I was young, but only a few did more than take an about turn straight back into the dirt. I’d spent my allowance on a proper one from Miller’s Dime Store, made of paper so fragile it tore the first time I tried to fly. But a passion with flying had begun. I would make one of my own. So, knowing little more than a kite was supposed to be shaped like a diamond and made out of sticks, string, and paper – I went to work.

My best friend was taking a shop class, and he’d go through the scrap pile for every board over two feet long. Running them through this giant saw, he made me a big pile of sticks. Most of them were too heavy or broke with the slightest bend, but I kept at it until I had something that at least looked like a kite.
Undaunted, I was going to make the ultimate, and it would be durable… and that’s why they didn’t fly.

My first were shopping bags taped together for the sail and using a torn bed sheet for a tail. They never got off the ground. After extensive research and development, I finally had one that would fly, and then another, and another, and well, you pretty much get the idea.

My ultimate crowning glory was almost four feet tall, made of some kind of brown paper and thin, but very strong, sticks.

I headed out to the wheat fields beyond the edge of our neighborhood. My four year old brother ran behind me, wanting in on the action, and we got that kite up… way up, until I had almost all the string out. The breeze was steady, and it was beautiful to see something I’d made fly so far away, and stay, as if it was supposed to.

By then, summer had started and we had the freedom to wander the world. There were, however, two very strict rules. Be home for dinner at six, and in for the night when the streetlights come on.

Looking at my watch, I realized we’d better be getting home and there wasn’t time to bring the kite back down. If we were late for dinner, I’d be in trouble and probably grounded, so I tied her to a fence just above the crick and we did our hurry up walk all the way back. Looking back several times, I saw my kite still up there, and it was simply the most amazing thing I could imagine.

I had chores before I could go back out, and it was a couple hours before I ran toward the crick. That kite was still up and I sat at the edge of the field for a while, just watching. I did make home just as the streetlights came on that night, and don’t remember if I ever flew again.

I must have been about 45 when I launched my first stunt kite… all those feelings came bouncing back and there I was, a young girl, in an open field… just me and that kite and the wind.

I don’t understand why there’s been so much conflict here in the forum lately, maybe it’s winter and we don’t get out enough. I do understand that we’re driven by different agendas, so I guess it’s ok with me… no matter how I think about it, it’s still a kite and I still love to fly and still for the same reasons I did back then.

As Jan said near the end of “Still Up There,” she’s progressed a bit since her childhood years… Her daughter’s grown up and out on her own, and Jan’s living by herself now. Still, Jan’s “intrigued” by flight and flying things – like kites. And, if truth be told, she more than just slightly “intrigued.”

In “I’ve Got It Bad,” Jan describes her passion for the trick-flying portion of sport kiting. Rather than just calling it a “passion” though, Jan displays her condition in it’s true light – terming it an “addiction.”

For this one, you need to know that Jan’s kite is a Prism I2K model that she’s fondly named “Eloise.” In this piece, she speaks of the kite first under her own control, and then as if it were a living / breathing creature in it’s own right, free from the dual-line controls that must be there for the kite to function properly – in any other mind but Jan’s, of course…

As before – settle in, read and feel the words, and just… Enjoy!

I’ve Got It Bad

It’s late, I can feel the addiction coming. It’s been happening more frequently.

Leaning into the chair, eyes close as I see Eloise, flying, nose pointed toward the ground. I throw my arms forward as she glides into a pancake, then backs smoothly into a fade. I pull away, she seems to be rising, then suddenly drops into a lateral roll. Excited, I fly to the edge of the window where she calmly rotates like a maple leaf through a suspended axel, as if never to fall.

Suddenly she speeds toward the middle, then almost screams into a spin axel… furious while turning, then pulls straight into the heavens. And I watch, as if slow motion… Eloise transforms into that purple and grey Mamba I saw in GWTW… wide in wing and graceful as she turns over and flies down once again, a flair into a pancake, then backs into a fade… ooohhh this is bliss. I could do all of this with every kite, the most wonderful of fantasies.

I’ve got it hard you know… Oh kite Goddess, grant me the serenity to accept the kites I cannot have, to acknowledge the kites I have, and the money to make up the difference so I can place an order with GWTW immediately. The purple Mamba, the Rainbow I2K, a Vapor… yup Goddess… it’s Me again.

Yes, Jan Anderson – one of my favorite kite writers. She’s always a good read, doing fine, sensitive works like these two. I sincerely hope something she’s written “struck a chord” with you.

So how about it? Did you connect with either of these? Anything you liked or didn’t like about them? Or have you another kite author you like better? You know, I’m always open to suggestions… Why not drop me a line and tell me about it?


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Author:Dave Shattuck

As one of our regular and most prolific contributors, Dave "Geezer" Shattuck is a driving force here at Kitelife and a regular at many NW events as well as other locations throughout the year.

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