“Now, throw it!”
We whooped together, the boys and I mingling on the ground. Necks unhinged, wide smiling mouths open wide to gulp in blue bursts of sky.
Up went the kite, string unreeling so fast it burnt into my palm. With quick flicks of wrist I worked to free the fishy shape into the deep air for the up-teenth time today. How high might I be able to pilot these coloured wings in the seemingly limitless space? The kite whipped further away into the sky and when it hovered there, for a short time, I handed over the reins.
“Watch the tree”, I said to my son, the mangled arms of it nearly caught the flying fish as it drifted past, tail flickering, flashy and fickle. Giant pine trees growled. The Westerly weather with its salty winds pulsed across the farmland to our fence.
“Hold on tight, there is a big blow coming for us…”
As if lead in a waltz by the wind, the kite took the slack on the reel. Held tight by the grasp of little white knuckles. The tail flicked and bucked about in a sky splashed with cloud. Then with a dropped shoulder turn, the kite bowed down close to the ground. The quiet in the garden, revealed only birdsong and I felt the snout of my dog nudging for a pat; he rolled onto the grass at my feet, large paws pointing up to the kite, his lips stretched over long teeth in squeaky yawn.
“Come on,” the string of the kite began to tangle on the grassy floor, “up you get.”
A Currawong called out. The sleek black model glided evenly across the garden, above the lawn peering at us land bound peeps with our scrap of fabric floundering on an odd reel of string. It took watch with a beady-eyed garden buddy in the dead gum.
In slow motion I watch the kite in descent. The sun glints in the peripheral, on my bare arms; my boys cheeks are rosy. It is winter still; but clear. This activity has been all consuming and I’m so grateful for this unexpected exercise. Only when I’ve been laughing at tangled little bodies at the end of the kite line do I realise how rare this kind of laughter is. Perhaps it is the delirium of a show of sun after a wet month.
“Here, let me.” I take back the string, I’m not ready to retire. I tug the airborne kite towards me, hoping for a punch of wind to help my plunging beauty. There is a little stirring in the leaves. It might be enough to get it back above the tree line.
Pink, green, blue and purple waves of motion ripple and leap at length from where I stand. I jerk the line. It may be no use, this fall was close to grounding so I took off. A clompy gumboot run with the kite surging behind me.
The boys were distracted at the tree swing. Interest was waning with height. Then I noticed them pause in play, prick their ears and their open faces looked around. The sound of the wind raised the pine needles in a furious whistle across the green. First the boys fixed eyes on a flailing mother figure, feeding the line in great urgency and then they looked up, watching the racing ascent of the kite directly above them.
“Look!” They are squealing and I’m laughing with them. I hold my post and feel the rush of the air moving about us, the hairs on my arms skyward. The fish finds new heights, swimming in great currents where birds normally go. Then like a rocket, it is propelled sideways and flicks over- I’ve lost control. The boys begin to run. The Mulberry tree has its fingers straining to grab the pretty object but it bounces off the high sticks and shoots like an arrow at the ground, the wing clipping the edge of a shrieking child. I cover my laughter with a hand; my son is on the grass spread-eagled. I listen for the child’s cry. Then I hear it; it starts as a little giggle then grows into tumbling laughter. Over on the ground is the kite, all drooped and less beautiful than in flight. At its side we are unwound, wriggling with joy.