Then we went home and changed clothes, laid around and talked for about 30 minutes, deciding what to do next. It was a windy and warm day, and great kite flying weather.
We have had the same parafoil kite since Sophie was three or four years old. I bought it for her from a speciality toy store in town--the kind that has more wooden toys than plastic, and more educational stuff than commercials in a box. I think I paid maybe $15 or $20 for it. It fits snugly in a small bag, has a super long tail of pink, orange, and yellow ribbons, and is a breeze to get in the air.
This is the same park where I've put hundreds of miles on my feet, on the .8 mile asphalt loop that goes around the park and also on the longer trail that is next to the park, about 1.5 miles in total, around the soccer fields and beside a couple of roads nearby. I love it there--so many gorgeous trees and two small lakes. I've had many an emotional break down in that park, and many more joyous running moments.
There's a huge 220+ year old cherry bark oak tree that stands about 100 yards from the big lake. I know these details on the tree thanks to a sign that was erected in 1991 by some Hoosier Tree Huggers (that's not their official title, but I don't remember who put up the sign). The kids have come to the park a lot over the years to feed the ducks, but we've never taken them to the tree. Yesterday we all walked out to see it. It's the biggest tree I've ever seen. Not in height, but in breadth. It's sprawling--the limbs have grown impossibly long. The trunk is huge--I wish we'd all tried to hug it and see if we could touch fingers. I don't think we could, but we will have to try that next time.
There's a wide expanse of green field just past the tree, and we tried to fly the kite there but it didn't take. Too many buildings and trees around to hold off the consistent winds we needed to get it to stay in the air.
So we walked back to the car and drove to the soccer fields near our house, where we always have success with our kite. Here are some pictures from 2009.
I didn't take any pictures yesterday. We just enjoyed spending time with each other.
Mark is the designated "get the kite in the air" guy. He loves it. He lets the string all the way out. Sophie and I like the kite at a nice, close, safe distance. Mark likes to push boundaries and is adventurous. My stomach gets nervous when Mark first starts letting it go really high; I don't know why... maybe a reverse fear of heights? I talked about it with Sophie, because she didn't want Mark to let the kite go all the way out either.
I said that at first, I feel anxious when the kite shifts from comfortably in control to beyond what we think is "safe." Then I surrender to the faith I have in Mark and in the kite and the string, and sit back and watch with a "whatever happens, happens" attitude. Then, when Mark announces that it's as high as it will go, I sit in wonder and stare at the kite, which now only has two tails because the yellow one disappears into the sky when it's that high.
The force of the pull on the kite is very strong when it's flying high. It takes some concentration and strength to hang on tight to the string's now-empty spool. The kids both took a turn flying it. Sophie held on for a long time, and got it to do loop-de-loops. Luke was scared he'd let go or it would slip, and didn't fly it long. Mark wished for a skate board like he had in his childhood, that he could stand on and let the kite pull him along. I sat on the blanket in the late day sun, happy and relaxed and thankful we were spending some remarkably blessed time together as a family.
When we were ready to go, it took a good 15 minutes to pull it back in. Mark pulled the string and gave the slack to Sophie, who twirled it around the spool like a pro. Before we completely reeled it in, we each took a turn flying it again at a closer height--the kite barely pulled and it was easy to hold on.
But as it neared the ground, it also became more likely to crash. It was fun to watch it swirl and spin and dive, then on Luke's watch it nose dived into the ground. We laughed and laughed, wound the string up tight, folded it away, walked back to the car and drove three minutes home.
I could wax metaphorical on my kite anxiety and fear and subsequent faith, but I think the experience speaks for itself.
We leave for Florida on Thursday morning for a 10 day vacation. Daytona Beach, then Disney World, then Sea World. We haven't had a long vacation with the kids in over five years. I'm almost all packed, did not have to buy a size 18 swim suit (size 16, and it is not tight at all), and even though I'm not skinny, I feel much better about my body than I did a month ago. I've built some strength and endurance, and I'm not worried about walking the parks for hours. I'm looking forward to it, actually, hoping the walking will do my legs good.
And best of all, even though I won't be in the Happiest Place on Earth until May 29th, today I feel happy.