Posted by: Kath Usitalo | March 30, 2009

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

TJ's favorite Delta kite in the Michigan sky

TJ's favorite Delta kite in the Michigan sky

Many years ago, BK (Before Kids) TJ and I got into flying kites. I’m not talking about the kites we flew—or tried to fly—as kids.

You know, the little paper diamonds strung on a balsa wood cross with a tail made of rags that always aimed straight for the biggest branch of a tree.

That is IF (while your best friend held the popsicle stick that anchored the kite string and you ran your little legs off and tried to gauge the breeze and at the precise moment when you felt a tug of wind and tossed the kite to the sky—IF you didn’t puncture the thin paper first) the wind lifted it, THEN it headed for the tree and you lost the kite AND your best friend (for a few minutes, anyway). 

Flag kite above Lake Michigan at Blue Skies, our place in the UP

I’m talking about the really cool kites, handmade of colorful fabric, that come in a variety of shapes and patterns, with long tails or spinners and little toys that scoot up and down the line. Beautiful boxes and triangular shapes—we even have one that looks like the Wright Brothers’ first flying machine. My favorite is my larger-than-life seagull that bobs and dips and soars like the real bird (without the screeching—or droppings—of the real thing).

I guess I’m thinking about kites because it’s the end of March and when we were growing up we were told that March was kite-flying season.

Maybe it is in Hawaii, or California. But with Michigan’s unpredictable weather (yesterday it snowed here in the Detroit area) March is not the ideal time to try to fly a kite. And maybe that’s why we had so little success and became frustrated with kites when we were kids.

Now we know that kite-flying can be as peaceful and relaxing as we want it to be.

Just place the kite on the ground, stretch out the line, and wait for the breeze to lift the kite upward. That’s right—no running. (At least, not with the kites in our collection.)

If you want a challenge you can manipulate the line and play with the breeze. Or you can release the kite to let it soar hundreds of feet in the sky above, and just watch it and meditate.Very relaxing. Since taking up kite flying I came across a Chinese saying (roughly translated), “Those who fly a kite can have a long life.”  They should know; the Chinese have been flying kites for over 2,000 years.

Our favorite place to shop, Mackinac Kites & Toys, operates a year ‘round store in Grand Haven; we frequent their warm-weather shop in Mackinaw City, which they claim is “one of the oldest kite stores in the world.”

Mackinac Kites hosts the annual Great Lakes Kite Fest May 16-17 at the Grand Haven State Park on Lake Michigan, as well as events in October (a prime kite flying time here).

Mark your calendar for the Back 2 the Wind Kite Club’s Michigan Kitefest June 13-14 at the Richland Township Park and the June 27-28 Warren Dunes Kitefest on Lake Michigan near Sawyer, Michigan.

The beautiful kites are not cheap, but—relatively speaking—can offer an inexpensive escape for a few minutes or hours. No running involved.



  1. Hello, Kath… I enjoyed reading about you and your kiteflying.. I just uploaded a post to my blog called, “Kiteflying and Cooking” (not simultaneously!). My blog is called Recipes of a Renaissance Man and can be found at
    I plan on writing more about kites in the future (mixed up with my other musings) so please add my to your blogroll if you like it. I will do the same.
    Cheers! Zebatron in California.

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