The kite lady
'Let's go fly a kite, up to the highest height!'
I can say without reservation that flying our kite is Rachel’s favourite thing to do. Unleashed in the wind, the colourful fabric and long tail is eye-catching and mesmerizing.
As often as possible, weather permitting, we drive Rachel and Janneke to The Spit. It’s a narrow tree-filled stretch of land alongside the Welland Canal that curves into Lake Ontario. Because we are able to push the girls’ wheelchairs without much difficulty, this fairly accessible hiking spot is our favourite. Standing next to the lighthouse, on a clear day, we can glimpse the skyline of Toronto in one direction and the mist-cloud of Niagara Falls in the opposite direction.
It’s less the views of the surrounding cities and more about the open space that brings us to stop at the lighthouse. It’s a perfect spot to fly the kite and just exhale.
Thank you, Mary Poppins
A quick Google search tells me most scholars believe kites originated in Chinese culture and were used for navigation, research and warfare. Over time, the kites became a source of amusement and curiosity for children. Cue Walt Disney’s movie Mary Poppins where the golden age of kiting is showcased, complete with the song “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”
Though we do love to fly our kite, we have yet to meet another kite in the air. Interestingly enough, when our kite is flying, other walkers stop to marvel and talk. Recently, one man shared his memories of building kites as a child growing up in Germany. I’ve also met families with small children; the adults seem almost sheepish in sharing they had not thought about flying kites with their kids. My husband Ralph jokes that I should keep a small cache at the lighthouse and sell them. I’m actually known as the “kite lady” by the regulars who walk that path.
The reason we fly
Status and small business potential aside, Rachel’s delight is the biggest reason we’ve become kite flyers. The joy on her face is obvious. Once our kite catches the wind, she follows it with her eyes and grins. If she isn’t the one to have the kite handle hooked to her seatbelt, she gives the “look” until we comply. I love her stubbornness in that moment.
I should add that Janneke seems to enjoy the kite as well, but she is drawn to the sight and sound of the waves crashing on the rocks just below the lighthouse. We often park her chair so she can feel the wind and see the water while we fly the kite with Rachel.
The gift of a pause
Seeing that colourful kite dance in the breeze, maneuvering the high and low pressures of the wind and the tension of the string has been surprisingly therapeutic for me. There are days when I am tired of trying to find joy. Yet there’s something about that kite that holds my attention and nudges me to take in the big sky. In that moment, I experience a connection between the physical movement of tipping my head upward and the emotions within my mind. It’s not as if suddenly I am at peace with everything and everyone, but I do feel like the world is on a wondrous pause for just a few minutes.
May there be peace and a pause in your day. If not, try flying a kite!