Thursday, 25 December 2014

Things I don't do anymore: kite flying

I have been thinking about some interesting themed blog marathon for the twelve days of Christmas, and I remembered something I had been contemplating for a while: things I don't do any more. Not something I tried once and never again, like scuba diving or paragliding, but things I used to do a lot and then stopped, for whatever reason. Inevitably, there will be some nostalgia in these posts. 

The first story will be about kite flying. My maternal grandfather was an engineer, and he had some interesting hobbies. He made model boats (maybe this is where my miniature-makaing comes from?), he did exquisite book-binding, and he made kites. It was just one summer I spent with him and my maternal grandmother. They were the children-should-be-allowed-to-do whatever-they-want kind of grandparents, while my other set of grandparents, with whom I and my parents lived, were very much for discipline. Grandma Sonya allowed me and my cousin to play pillow war when I stayed overnight; she made poppyseed buns and allowed me to eat as many as I could. With grandpa Sergej there was a ritual of combing his beard.

The summer I stayed with them in a village on the river Oka, when I was four, grandpa was making and flying kites. His own kite was a large, very elaborate box kite, but for me he made a simpler and smaller variant. Every evening we would fly our kites on the river bank, paying out the line slowly as the kite caught the wind and lifted, then starting to tug so hard that I would lose the handle, and the kite would fall down, far, far away. My cousin, four year older and in my eyes almost a grownup, would run and pick it up, folding the line carefully as he returned. Kite up again, lose the handle, Sasha runs to retrieve the kite. Eternal joy.

I don't remember much of that summer, other than our dog Paul was attacked by another dog and died. This was probably the first death I encountered, and a very violent and bloody one. Paul had been my friend, staying faithfully by my side when I was punished and sent to stand in a corner until I apologised. I would never apologise so the corner standing went for ever. This never happened when I was with grandma Sonya and grandpa Sergej. After that kite-flying summer I never stayed with them again, I don't know why. My parents went boating with them, and they always said that I was too young to join. I wasn't allowed to take my kite, which was just as well because there would be no one to retrieve it for me. 

I never tried to make a kite myself. Possibly, I bought toy kites for the children at some point, but it never became a passion. But there he is, grandpa Sergej, at the other end of the kite line. 

This is what a box kite looks like. They are less common than flat rectangular kites.

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