Monday, May 23, 2011

Yesterday was a grand time for kite flying

Macomb Daily file photos by Craig Gaffield.

When I was a child, it was around this time of year that I remember flying a kite.
As soon as the rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds, I would slip on a pair of boots, grab a slicker and head outside. If a new kite did not come via an Easter basket, I would coax my dad into taking a trip to the hardware store. It never took a lot of coaxing. While he was checking out the latest and greatest gardening tools and lawn equipment, I would saunter over to the rain barrel and see what was left in the way of kites.
Mr. Robinette took great pride in carrying everything a family in the city or on the farm might need around the house, but that meant he could only order items in small amounts. The classic diamond kites went fast. The frame is simply a cross-shaped structure attached at the middle, and a sail and tail to keep it flying.
Most of the kites were partially assembled and included a roll of string. I liked to add a few more swatches of fabric to the tail and whenever possible used my own string. The stuff that came with the kites always seemed to get tangled.
Once the kite was ready to go I would head to the soybean field behind our house and let her fly. Even now I think kite flying is an amazing hobby. There’s just something neat about holding a roll of string in your hands knowing each time you let it out that what is attached to the other end soars higher and higher.
I encourage everyone who loves the great outdoors to give it a whirl.
But be careful, especially those of you who live near any electric wires.
“We urge everyone to follow a few important safety rules when flying kites,” said Kip Sauer, executive manager of Consumers Energy services east. “When it comes to outdoor fun, look up to identify hazards and obstacles, stay away from overhead electric lines and stay safe.”
No matter how high they might appear — kites should never be flown near electric power lines. Should a kite get tangled on an overhead wire, do not try to get it. Let it go. Sauer said adults should also caution children to never climb a utility pole, a tree located near a power line or an antenna tower to retrieve a kite.
Heading back to the hardware or sporting goods store for a new kite is the safest course of action.
Hoping to deter trouble, Consumers Energy offers the following basic rules to help keep kite flyers safe:
Stay clear of all overhead wires, especially electric lines.
Whether you purchase a kite at the store or make it yourself, make sure it is constructed of wood, plastic or paper. Never use anything metallic such as aluminum foil, Mylar polyester film or Ben Franklin’s key, they conduct electricity.
You can use the string that comes with the kite or dry kite string but never wire.
Watching a kite soar through the air is distracting enough without having to worry about traffic or other activities going on around you. Keep your flights to open areas. Avoid streets and highways as well as television and radio antennas.
Send your comments or home and garden tips to Gina Joseph, The Macomb Daily, 100 Macomb Daily Drive, Mount Clemens, MI 48043, or email them to gina.joseph@macombdaily.com.

Rose-colored glasses are never made in bifocals. Nobody wants to read the small print in dreams -- Ann Landers

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