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Monday, September 20, 2010

Just in case

There are so many impulse purchases littering the history of my so-called adult life that I would be hard pressed to categorize them, much less list them! 

Most of these countless impulse purchases were like the flare of a match... burning bright for a moment, and then an instant later (in relative terms) I was left holding an item whose attraction, purpose and usefulness I couldn't even begin to fathom.

But of all the impulse purchases I've made throughout the many years that I've had access to disposable income, just one has stood the test of time.  That's right.  One.

A kite. 

Specifically,  a little ripstop nylon pocket para-foil kite that I purchased during my post-university single days.

Pocket parafoil1 
I bought it on a lark while browsing a 'Nature Company' store in a mall somewhere (I think it was either Atlanta or Houston... but don't hold me to that).  At the time it seemed like such an obvious thing... I mean, who doesn't love a kite?   'And it fits in my pocket?!  Here's my five bucks... no thanks, I don't need a bag'.

Because this kite rolls up small enough to fit in a pocket, I've been able to keep it with me at [almost] all times... ready for  instant use whenever life presents just the right combination of topographical and meteorological conditions.

From that day on, rare was the outing that didn't find that kite nestled at the bottom of my trusty Fjall Raven Kanken.  And the kite has been flown on beaches from La Jolla shores to Martha's Vineyard... and many windy locales in between (and elsewhere in the world).

At some point during our early years of marriage I became convinced that I'd lost my beloved kite, and promptly went out and bought another one.  As is often the case with such things, no sooner had I gotten the new kite home, the old one turned up.

No biggie... my family was growing, so why not keep two kites around?

We have priceless photos of Ariella and Gilad flying those kites, and not too long ago, Zahava and I took Yonah to the local park to check out his kite flying skills (impressive).   The pictures are not of the kites, mind you, but of their shining faces... caught up in the excitement of the moment, and oblivious to anything but the wind, the string and that distant speck of fabric.

The first thing I throw into my suitcase when packing for a business trip is a kite... and it goes without saying that for family vacations no less than two will do.  After all, few things are better at lending perspective than a distant kite at the end of a string.

But don't take this to mean that we fly kites at every opportunity.  Years occasionally sneak by where the little kites don't get to taste the wind even once.  But there is something about having the kites with me/us... about the possibility of flying a kite at a moment's notice should the wind and the landscape present themselves to the possibility... that makes any outing just a little more promising.

Without exception, every time I have taken one of my kites out of its stuff sack and tossed it into the wind, the world has become a simpler, more wonderful place.  Flying a kite engenders a fantastic sort of tunnel vision that robs problems and worries of their immediacy and power over you. 

I decided to share this today because I was day-dreaming about where we might take the kids during the coming days off for the Sukkot holiday.  We'll probably play it by ear and take it day-by-day. 

But one thing is certain:  Somewhere in at least one of our knapsacks... tossed in there along with the first aid kit, pocket knife, granola bars and water... will be at least one kite.  Y'know... just in case.

[BTW, I have no connection to the kite seller I linked to above.  If you do a search for pocket parafoil kite, I'm sure you'll find dozens, if not hundreds, of options.  Enjoy!]

Posted by David Bogner on September 20, 2010 | Permalink

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I have never forgotten my first kite. It was black and white- like Dracula and it flew for what seemed like hours...

Posted by: Jack | Sep 20, 2010 6:23:43 PM

Thanks for telling me about this kind of kite. I've never heard of them before (must have led a sheltered life). I'm not sure how well any kite would survive in our howling Antarctic southerlies, but I'm willing to give it a try.

Posted by: Kiwi Noa | Sep 20, 2010 9:01:29 PM

Was hoping for a pic... :(

Great memories! :)

Posted by: val | Sep 20, 2010 9:06:40 PM

I've never flown a kite. Maybe it's time to try?

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Sep 20, 2010 9:55:30 PM

Me, I love to fly my Narrisch-Kite every chance I get.

Posted by: Elisson | Sep 21, 2010 4:20:44 AM

Our first Leiter sukkah kit had a tubular aluminum frame (about 1" diameter tubes) and canvas walls (one canvas piece that wrapped around the vertical tubes). In stiff winds, it wanted to be a box kite, so we had to weigh down the lower corners of the frame with bricks or sandbags.

Launched schach-less from a high enough hill in a strong enough wind, it might have flown like a real kite.

Posted by: Bob Miller | Sep 26, 2010 11:30:52 PM

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