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A Slice of Heaven...
A kite's personal story with Ray

by Joan H. Lauino

Kestrels ready to go..."I am a Kestrel kite with a rip-roaring story to tell! Although I do not know how it feels to be a homo sapien, I do know how it feels to be controlled by one! As one of three Kestrels owned by my master, Ray Bethell, I wholeheartedly want to share my personal experience of being manipulated on hundreds of feet of blue line! You have to be a kite to comprehend these magical moments! If you are in doubt, please read on.

Ray, a grand celebrant of human spirit and ingenuity, takes me out mostly every day along with my two identical twins. But tonight seems electric with Ray scurrying about. My friends and I are being wrapped more snuggly than usual in our kite bag feeling like a soft black cocoon where we are being cushioned for flight to a strange land. A kite festival must be somewhere and upon the plane's landing, strange languages reveal what country we have entered. Once again it is in France!

Early, the next morning, I welcome the bright sun bathing my skins and the cooling winds airing me out. Ray lovingly assembles me with attention paid to my every need. Soon I'm standing upright on the sandy earth, anticipating take off. The crowds watch closely as one of my cohorts is connected to Ray's hops, I am now in Ray's right hand, my friend is in his left. In high speed, we roar upward with our tails fluttering and whipping through the air currents that rush over our nylons.

Once in the air, time stands still. Time becomes non-existent. Nor are we affected by gravity for us kites are air pushed with constant pressure at our bridles. Our fly lines resemble cables or umbilical cords connecting us to our master. A connection so important, so crucial, that I periodically glance down at him for reassurance! Ray stands tall, bronzed, and like an orchestra conductor, he gracefully performs body/muscular movements so we can fly according to his commands. He's flashing his white teeth smile at us to reinforce complete trust and confidence while his blue eyes are twinkling beneath his famous Malaysian hat. He is richly handsome as we are while embracing one objective: Aerial perfection must saturate the soul.

Some maneuvers surely challenge my endurance, like when the earth rushes toward me in a Mach 1 dive, where I stop on a dime for a fling toward the sky! The high acceleration is dizzying. My spine shutters and at times, I feel that I'm coming apart, but we are made for this. However, our most peaceful period comes during refueling. Aaah, refueling!! The crowd pleaser segment where us Kestrels are gracefully stacked with our faces in between each other's blue lines! The lines press against our front spars radiating a soft subtle vibration. Cold and magnetized, they maintain a steady hum like cables on a suspension bridge. Our relaxation in this 'refueling' mode is pure love where we all glide together in perfect unison so hypnotic and sensual. Suddenly, a strong pull separates us and like an opening up of a ladies fan, we skim in opposite directions while the increases in volume. Our tails five off pleasant snapping sounds when slicing through the breeze and in turn our cables switch to several octaves depending on the speed of flight. Only kites hear this hum and whew, it's habitually noisy up here with the familiar music below!! In other maneuvers of tumbles and twists, the crowds appear to be above our heads with the sky below. We become disoriented, cold, and then plunge into an altered state of suspended animation. At times, we don't know from a bag of beans what 'wind' IS beneath our wings! But seriously folks, no amusement park ride could ever challenge or duplicate these riveting moments!

I often steal quick peeks at the thousands of humans gazing mesmerized at our sky dances. At the end of each performance, we float down one by one to their ecstatic applause and whistles that thunder from the Earth to the heavens. Exhausted, wind blown, and dusty, we still have the energy to utter breathlessly: 'Ray, please put us back in the air.' He always does. I thank you for flying with me."

A Kestrel

Joan H. Lauino
April 30, 2004


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