Thursday, December 20, 2012

San Francisco Kites

When the Seattle International Children's Festival went defunct a couple years back, we were lucky enough to come into possession of their leftover art supplies, including a large box of kite making kits. Making these kites is slightly over the heads of most of the children, I've discovered, but now that this particular genii is out of the bottle, especially on windy days, some of our more experienced students will ask me to bring them out of the storage room so they can have another go at it.

I usually resist because, frankly, I'm not always up for dealing with the level of frustration making these kites evokes in the younger, more perfectionistic kids, but when I have a couple parents available in whom the personality traits of patience and tinkering around are combined, I'll relent and we make kites at the workbench.

A while back, we were entertaining a visitor from San Francisco and she happened to be there on one of these kite making days. Now, I'm not always the brightest bulb in the chandelier, a fact I cover for here on the blog by sharing primarily those rare instances when I come out looking good. These kites are made mostly from paper and it was, indeed, the gusty wind that had reminded the kids of kites in the first place. I stood with our visitor watching the chaos of both children and adults trying to work through the step-by-step process of manufacturing these rather complicated things that generally require a great deal of adult assistance, while at the same time preventing all that paper and string from just blowing over the fence and down the hill.

When the wind dies down, there's always the time tested method of just running with your kite behind you.

It was amusing, because it wasn't happening to us.

At one point she asked me, "Have you ever heard of San Francisco kites?"

No, I hadn't.

"Our kids have figured out that if you just tie a string to a cheap plastic grocery bag, it makes a terrific kite."

These plastic bags have become such a rare commodity here in Seattle that when the kite flying fun was over, the kids continued to play with their bags. This one is an integral part of this "origami crane house."

This was before the city of Seattle had banned the use of these bag within the city limits, so when she said it, I immediately thought of all those hideous bags that tumble down the street and get caught up in tree branches on windy days. Of course, they would make great kites and we've been making them ever since. We've been so successful that it's been months since any of the kids have asked about those kite making kits.

Last week, however, we used up the last of my plastic bag supply and these bags have become quite rare in Seattle. I guess I'll need to start sending our families to shop in the suburbs.

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