Let’s Go Fly A Kite

National Kite Festival

Today, I got in touch with my inner child. You know the one, that one which lives inside us all and which at times surprises us at the most unexpected moments. It lies dormant, and more-often-than-not suppressed, in some locked chamber inside our hearts. We are conscious of its presence while it lingers unattended under the watchful eye of those merciless wardens of our so-called happiness, adulthood and correctness. But try as they may on days like these, those vicious suppressors of spontaneity and childhood innocence lie helpless before the sight of hundreds of kites slicing their way through the April sky above the blooming blossoms of a glorious spring day. No chance, none at all.

That is because today was a special day, the day in which the great Smithsonian Institution celebrates the annual Blossom Kite Festival. Colorful flying machines flying in all directions with a cloudy canvas as a backdrop. Children whose eyes rarely left the sky while their parents desperately tried their best at a two-minute crash course on flying the unruly kites. Entanglements as common as the acrobatic displays by the most experienced flyers. Big kites, small kites, kites without a tail, kites with flags, and the wonderment of thousands of people who could not conceive of missing an event like this. And yes, there on that grassy field of wonders, someone I knew from my childhood showed up, unannounced and marveling at the celestial spectacle as he has once marveled on a land so very far away. He didn’t stay long, but long enough to remind me that flying a kite has never been about expertise, but rather about letting your dreams soar way up into the skies and then fighting like hell to keep them there for as long as you can. Something the me now sometimes forgets, but something the me then always remembered. And that’s what great days are made of.

Of Kites And Cherry Blossoms

Kite pros discuss their tactics during the National Cherry Blossom Kite Festival in Washington, DC.  Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED.
Kite pros discuss their tactics during the National Cherry Blossom Kite Festival in Washington, DC. Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED.
Kite events at the National Mall soften the edge of an otherwise serious city.  Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G.
Kite events at the National Mall soften the edge of an otherwise serious city. Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G.
Sometimes it was hard to separate the kids from the adults, and that was a good thing.  Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G.
Sometimes it was hard to separate the kids from the adults, and that was a good thing. Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G.

So how do you get Washingtonians to relax?  Combine the National Cherry Blossom Festival with an all-out kite festival at the National Mall, and suddenly like magic the city becomes one great, big party.  Picnics, laughter, and games do have a way of softening this city’s rougher edges.  And if there’s a time when you actually feel that our national parks do belong to the people, it is at times like these that we all feel that the ground we all walk on is part of the great heritage of America.  This feeling is always made a lot more special by the yearly blooming of our National cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin, which mark the unmistakable arrival of spring.  Granted that the blossoms had not fully bloomed yet (next weekend is the projected peak bloom), but for the sun-starved Washingtonians, the start of the yearly festival is good enough transition from the cold, dark nights of winter.  What’s more, it was reported that someone at the festival even saw a politician smiling this weekend, and that my dear friend, is a very good sign.