Greetings from the Mainland!
By 3:00 this afternoon we were all feeling a little cooped up and grumpy. "Let's go to the park!" I said, in code. P-A-R-K, so that Ari didn't get prematurely excited. Jessica agreed. The park would be just the thing on a fine, sunny Sunday afternoon.
The park in question is located about 2 kilometers from our house, and is absolutely enormous. With wide open spaces and no power lines nearby, it's a prime spot to let out a bit of string and put up a kite. And it just so happened that I brought my kite from Canada - a blue L.L. Bean kite with a long tail.
Actually, that kite has a long history. My mom bought it for me when we were leaving for Cambodia. She informed me that Cambodian boys like flying kites (with the probable implication that I would like flying kites too). However, whether through neglect or general distractedness, I never flew the kite. I don't even know if I took it out of the bag. But as we packed the bags for China, I saw it there, and tossed it in.
Even before we reached the park, we could see dozens of kites in the air. The sky was peppered with them, some sailing unbelievably high, appearing motionless. Inside, we found people of all ages, some there with their children, or their spouse, or even by themselves, all with a spool of twine in hand.
The boys loved chasing the kite's tail, getting completely tangled in the ribbons. My kite must be a "trick" kite, because it does all sorts of spirals and figure-eights. Because the tail is at least 10 feet long, it is really very pretty to watch.
But not nearly as pretty as some of the other kites on display. I had the sensation I was entering into a club, where horsepower and chrome were traded for wingspan and size of spool. Some folks had kites that were easily 6 feet across, while others had massive mechanical spools with hundreds of feet of twine.
An unexpectedly fun feature to the whole affair was that the few trees that are scattered about the park seem to be magnets for kites. It's great (in a sick sort of way) to watch a kite spin and wheel out of control, veering unerringly for the trees. Everyone's eyes are fixed on the ill-fated creation, some cringing, some grinning with open-mouthed anticipation. And of course, it's impossible that a kite should merely become lodged in a tree. They become ensnared. Woven, even.
But it's not all bad. I made friends with two couples as I helped them retrieve their kites. It helps that I am 6 inches taller than them, and that I found a really long stick.
Getting out was really good for all of us. First of all, it was good to get some fresh air, take in the sights, and go somewhere that the boys could run around and horseplay without fear of getting lost or trampled. But even more than this, it was nice that we picked a place to go, went, and enjoyed it. A bit of a feeling of independence, I guess.
Here are a few shots of the many kites that were out today. Because they were so high, my camera just captured a blurry image. So I played around a bit.