The biggest and nicest park in Oak Bluffs, and always has been, was Ocean Park. A great sea of green, it was the place where the band played on Sunday nights, where fireworks got shot off, where boats were sailed in the cement pond, and where you could always go fly a kite. As its name implies, it's near the ocean. So, it nearly always has a nice breeze blowing.
It wasn't the first place I flew a kite. No, that honor goes to the little hill that overlooks Sunset Lake. It too was a broad, open area; and it was much safer: no traffic, and being a hill meant it usually had a great wind blowing across it.
But, Ocean Park was the place the town decided to hold the first ever Kite Festival. Being so large and open, and centrally located, with good parking - it was the perfect spot. When I heard about it, I had to wonder: what are they planning to do at the festival? I'd been to the West Tisbury Agricultural Fair, and that had games, food, rides, and so forth. So, would the Kite Festival be like that?
We headed on down there with one of my kites, and I got quite the eyeful, as we approached. All kinds of kites - big, small, long, colorful, dragon-shaped, and on and on - peppered the sky. I was so used to fishing; I couldn't help but wonder who was controlling who? Were the people in control of the kites, or did the kites master people? In fishing, it's the person on top who controls. And, as I stood there looking over the park, the kites looked like the fishermen, and the people the bait on the hooks. Oh well, who was I to question the dynamics of the human-kite relationship?
I sent my kite aloft, and watched as it climbed high into the sky, until it was little more than a dot set against the clear blue sky. As I stood there, watching the others fly theirs, I started to wonder: was anything special going to happen? Were they going to have contests to see who could get their kite highest, or who could make theirs do all sorts of tricks? And then - it happened, my kite came plunging earthward. Normally, the park was so open that I could easily start running and get it to recover, but not this day.
It slammed into the ground clear across the park, and I slowly began to wind up my string. It took a while, but I finally got across to the road where my kite lay. Fortunately, it lay on the sidewalk beyond the road, so it hadn't gotten run over. Unfortunately, another kite enthusiast had gotten their line entangled in mine. I had to wonder, was this going to be like trying to untying the Gordian Knott? It took a while, but we got untangled, and once more sent our kites skyward.
Later that day, I learned about the awards that had been given out - simple little ribbons, as I recall. They had some funny ones:
Highest Flying Kite
Biggest Ball of String
Most Visits to the Kite Hospital, and so on and so forth.
Click here for more by AJ Robinson.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
Click above to tell a friend about this article.