Power kites are all about control, or perhaps, the illusion of control. I sometimes watch people flying them on the meadow but whether the wind is so strong that they're nearly blown off their feet, or so flukey that the kite crumples and refuses to play, there doesn't seem to be an awful lot of skill in it. They always seem to stand in inappropriate places, in the lea of trees or buildings, where the wind shadow is long, yanking the lines this way and that, trying to bend the kite and the wind to their will. Rarely do they succeed. There's not much listening going on (though granted kite-surfing is another matter).
No, for me, it's the single-line kite that does it. Admittedly, the nylon sled-kite I retrieved from my cupboard doesn't take a whole lot of skill either - it pretty much flies itself - but you still have to play out the line when the gusts come, and draw it in again when they recede. You have to feel the wind. But there are single-string kites that you can learn to move up and down or left and right. All require skill, yes, but also a kind of zen, a letting go. Relinquish any idea of control and the kite rises. Oh the metaphor!
And don't kites just lend themselves to metaphor? They punctuate the sky, return it to a human scale. They hug the wind. Our minds can't help but follow them up into the empyrean; watching them, we expand. As with the wind, we animate them, for they move like creatures. They tug and pull against their earthly bonds, yearning for freedom, but only death would follow their release.
Kites delight so no wonder restrictive cultures have, at times, banned them. Imagine what would happen if we all bunked off work for the afternoon and went kite-flying instead?
The next time someone barks at me to 'go fly a kite' I shall receive it as a benediction.