The Craft Of Kite-Making
March is around the corner - and while all eyes are focused on the election - those of us who have taken wing with kites, and watched them soar and swing against a sky of cerulean blue - will know that whether your kite is red or blue, March is the month to fly it.
And, while many will raise plastic kites bought cheap - more power to youâ€¦but to get the true kite experience, you've got to learn to make your own.
That's what our intern Robin Schaffer did on Saturday. She participated in the last of 5 scheduled workshops on kite-craft.
It was held at the Bliss Center and here's what she learned:
Robin Schaffer Reporting
For many a kite is a thing of wonderment; it goes aloft and gives the kite owner a sense that he or she is also transported, but before a kite reaches those heights it starts here, on the ground. Sticks, paper, glue, string, a steady hand and a focused mind - that's what's being taught at a series of workshops funded by the Taiwan Embassy to bring back Kite Flying in Belize. It is part craft, part culture - and the idea for it came from Jane House:
Jane House, Volunteer
"Well I love kites. For over 30 years I've been making kites myself and when I moved to Belize a few years ago, I saw a kite festival on Marine Parade, and it sparked my interest again. So, I made a kite, and when I was carrying it home, a lot of people stopped me said that they used to love making kites when they were children, and that children didn't make kites anymore. So I thought that it would be great to try to get this wonderful, cultural activity started again in Belize. We're teaching adults, who will be trainers of children. And they will go back to their respective communities - be it youth groups, villages, or small towns - and hold workshops so that we can spread the word and get kids making kites and get them outside again."
But before they go outside, the work starts on the inside, participating in the workshop. It's here they learn the craft of kite-making - which is also a way of reviving a cultural practice.
Glenford Hyde - Kite Master
"I was first thought to make the 3 basic kites by my oldest sister because my older brother and cousin didn't want us around while they were making their own. So my sister showed us how to make it, and I've been making kites ever since. Now, I grew up in an area of Belize City around by the Majestic, which was considered a poor area. And we didn't have fancy toys, so we made kites in the evening after school, and go and fly them to keep ourselves busy. I've spent many years working with kids, teaching them how to make kites, and in Ladyville where I live, the kids look forward to this time of the year. In fact, from December, some of them are asking me when I will start to make kites again."
But more than just nostalgia, making kites is about flying them, and everything done here means nothing if the kite can't fly.
"Can you tell me what the joy is, or what you get out of it when you see that kite flying up there?"
"Well, I'm someone who's afraid of heights. So, instead of me going up, I rather the kite going up. I just love what kite is pulling on that string, you feel what it is, and to realize that you can actually get something the entire way up there."
And there are all kinds of kites; I tried my hand at a moony, but there are also staries and singers - which we were all taught to make.
And, in the end, it does seem like half the fun is in making the kite.
"Now, when you make one, you sit down, design, and make it - now, I'm not saying that every time you'll get it flying - but once you go out there and you getting flying, you then feel as though you've accomplished something."
And these workshops did accomplish something- they helped to save a fading cultural practice.
Jane House, Volunteer
"The other day, I was walking through Belize City, and I saw a kite flying from the porch of a house, and that little boy who had gone to a workshop, was making kites now, and flying them. So, it's great."
Participants of previous workshops are already organizing kite flying festivals and activities in their various communities, and in March, a kite festival will be held in Belize City.