It’s Easter, have some chocolate and fly a kite

Is it Easter already? I thought it was still February, the way things have been what with spring gone AWOL, and winter still breathing its icy breath down our necks.

Is it Easter already? I thought it was still February, the way things have been what with spring gone AWOL, and winter still breathing its icy breath down our necks.

It’s warmish one day, and so cold the next I’m worried that if the timing is wrong, the Easter bunny might freeze his eggs right off of his basket.

It just doesn’t seem like Easter weather, and that can have quite an impact on the secular side of the holiday celebrations — at least the outdoor part of Easter.

To me, Easter the holiday has always meant two things. It means chocolate and it means kites. There’s nothing that says ‘Easter’ more than a hollow chocolate bunny the size of a full grown Schnauzer, and a kite that usually flies like a lead balloon.

As a kid I remember getting about 35 pounds of chocolate one Easter (this was before someone invented kilograms), and I also got my very first kite.

It was the beginning of a tradition.

Except that my first kite was a Kit Kite. As I studied the instructions in the Kite Kit, biting the ears off of a chocolate bunny, I began to get all wound up with the excitement that only the sugar rush from chocolate bunny ears can bring, and I somehow got the ridiculous notion that this kite I was going to build was actually going to fly.

You see, when I comes to building things I had much more imagination and optimism than talent. All the airplane models I finished always looked like they had already crashed.

I almost burned down our house in Parkvale with my “Wood Burning Art Set”, which simply involved burning lines and designs on pieces of balsa wood with what looked like a soldering iron. My bird house project ended up looking like one of those surrealistic crooked houses from a Tim Burton nightmare. No bird in their right mind would go near the thing.

So it was with a completely unreasonable sense of optimism that I dug into the Kite Kit, which turned out to consist of two sticks of wood, a ball of string, three feet of ribbon and a half dozen paper bow ties.

The instructions said to find a newspaper and cut a large diamond shape out of a double page spread, then tie the shorter stick across the longer stick in the shape of a cross —which I figured was pretty appropriate seeing that it was Easter — and then Scotch tape the four corners of the diamond shaped newspaper “kite” to the four ends of the sticks.

That part was much more difficult than it sounds, and I went through the entire sports section of The Red Deer Advocate until I finally successfully attached a relatively un-ripped newspaper diamond to the sticks.

All that was left was to attach the bow ties to the ribbon, making a “tail” that all kites in the old days seemed to require, tape that to the bottom of the kite, and tie the large ball of string to the middle of the sticks.

And “voila” I had a crooked diamond shaped newspaper article about the Red Deer Rustlers hockey team attached to two sticks and a tail, all held together with 3 or 4 rolls of Scotch tape. It weighed as much as your average brick and had about the same chance of flying.

Still naively optimistic I trotted happily across the street to the playground, lugging my Easter kite, my mouth stuffed full of a Cadbury Caramel Easter egg.

The weather was perfect for kite flying — warm and sunny with a nice breeze blowing. I imagined a fun-filled afternoon of flying my kite as high as the clouds, as the neighborhood kids with chocolate smeared all over their smiling faces gathered to witness the incredible flight of my very own Easter kite that I had made with my own two chocolate-sticky hands.

With my back to the wind I threw that thing as high as I could and turned and ran like a maniac, holding the string up so that the magical diamond kite would launch gracefully upward, to hover in the wind on its journey to the clouds.

As you can imagine, my creation not so much “flew” as “plummeted”. The newspaper ripped, the sticks come apart and the whole mess dove at surprisingly high speed directly into the ground, smashing in a broken heap.

That pile of newspaper, sticks and string looked exactly like someone was ready to start a campfire, which is what I felt like doing with my so-called kite.

Back at home, I consoled myself with a large amount of those little tin foil wrapped chocolate eggs, and half of a hollow bunny, and Ed Sullivan plus Bonanza on our big black and white RCA TV cabinet that night, getting to stay up late on account of the holiday.

Trying not to think about kites.

But the good news is I got a kite the next Easter, and it wasn’t a build it yourself kite, and it actually flew until I got it caught in the top of our neighbor Mrs. Gurley’s spruce tree.

And every Easter after that, I got another kite and every year the kite technology and my kiting technique seemed to improve, and I spent many happy hours holding onto a string, my kite in the air and my head in the clouds.

And so it continued with my own rotten kids, chocolate and kites every Easter. They say you live again through your children, and true enough, I got an excuse to share many more years of unabashed joyful family kiting.

Of course not a single one of those kites had anything to do with newspapers and sticks, and I didn’t have to build any of them. And that’s precisely why they actually flew.

But, no worries. If the kiting thing doesn’t work out this year, there’s always the chocolate.

Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate.