It was a good practice week. Everyone experimented with loops and turns
and dives. The animals had fun learning how their kites responded to the
wind or a pull on the string. However, some kites seemed to have a mind
of their own. The week passed quickly. When Saturday morning arrived,
most were ready, some were not.
As Grenby had predicted, the weather was partly cloudy and breezy with
the wind from the south. In other words, it was perfect kite flying
weather. The contest site was a small field on the north side of the
island. It was chosen the day before, based upon the expected wind
direction. For the most part, the kites would be flown over the open
water, and everyone would have a good view. The contest was scheduled to
begin at 10 bongs, but many were there by 8. The sky was soon full of
bright, darting colours as everyone did some final practicing.
The animals were to compete in a scored stylistic flying exhibition.
There were five kite categories — 1-foot, 2-foot, 3-foot, 4-foot and
box. Each competitor would have five minutes to perform. The judges
would rate each performance for flying skill and originality. The
maximum number of points that could be earned in each category was 10,
so the highest possible score was 20. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place
finishers in each category would receive beautiful silk award ribbons.
At 10 bongs, Bartholomew called everyone to order. He arranged the
contestants on the field according to their kite category. The ticket
system was used again to see who would go first, second and so on.
Brie Bluebird was again chosen first, with her blue, white, and yellow
1-foot kite. She sent it into the sky and executed some beautiful
figure-eights. She swooped and swirled the kite gracefully for much of
the five minutes. Everyone applauded a very nice opening performance.
There was a lot of similarity in the performances, but some did stand
out. The best performance of the day went to Dr. Brigit. Among other
tricks, she made her box kite climb very high in the sky and then come
hurtling towards the pond. Just before hitting, it took a sharp U-turn
and barely skimmed the water. She did this three times. She got a
standing ovation from the crowd and was awarded a perfect 20 points.
On the other end of the scale, unfortunately, a few kites crashed. Finn
Frog’s kite went out of control and pulled him into the pond before it
went down. Most embarrassing!
Everyone brought a picnic lunch and had a very enjoyable time. At the
end of the long day, the winners were announced:
1st - Fiona Frog, 18 points
2nd - Brie Bluebird, 16 points
3rd - Faith Frog, 14 points
1st - Sofie Squirrel, 17 points
2nd - Melrose Mole, 16 points
3rd - Bartley Bluebird, 14 points
1st - Conner Chipmunk, 18 points
2nd - Stoddard Swan, 17 points
3rd - Declan Duck, 16 points
1st - Dahlia Duck, 18 points
2nd - Wilde Weasel, 16 points
3rd - Birch Beaver, 13 points
1st - Brigit Badger, 20 points
2nd - Shane Squirrel, 18 points
3rd - Merwin Mole, 16 points
Bartholomew closed the event by congratulating the winners, thanking
everyone, and wishing them well. Most packed up and left the island
quickly to return home.
The Chipmunk brothers, Conner, Colin, and Craig, decided to stay a
little longer and play with Conner’s winning kite. Stoddard Swan and
Branna and Britt Bluebird also stayed.
At one point, Colin suggested that it would be fun if they could ride on
the kite. The other chipmunks agreed, so Conner pulled the kite down to
the ground. Colin and Craig grabbed onto the crossbar.
Conner said, “This will only be a short ride. Now, hold on tight.”
Stoddard cautioned, “Please, be careful.”
Conner launched the kite into the wind. The breeze caught it, and soon
the two chipmunks were soaring over the pond. What a view they had! Now,
they knew what it was like to be a bird. It was great fun!
But then, a strong gust of wind hit the kite, and to everyone’s horror,
the string broke. The kite immediately went out of control and headed
north over the pond.
Conner yelled, “Oh, no! Help!”
Stoddard and the bluebirds, took off immediately and went after the
kite. There was nothing Conner could do but hope. The three birds
quickly caught up with the kite, but they didn’t have a rescue plan.
Stoddard saw that there was still a short piece of string attached to
the frame. He thought that if he could grab the string, he could pull
the kite back towards the island. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get close
enough. When he tried, the draft from his flapping wings pushed the kite
away. He was too big.
Then Britt grabbed the string but couldn’t change the large kite’s
direction. She was too small.
Branna saw what was happening and had another idea. Branna yelled,
“Britt and I are going to try to land on the crossbar and pick them up.”
Stoddard yelled, “Okay, good luck.”
The kite bobbed and weaved, darted and plunged unpredictably in the
wind. Branna and Britt made several approaches in trying to land on the
crossbar to which the chipmunks were tightly clinging. To do that, they
had to hover briefly above the crossbar and then stop flapping their
wings so that they could settle down onto it. Unfortunately, the kite
would turn this way or that, and the bluebirds would end up falling
through the sky until they could start flapping again to stop their
plunge towards the pond. It was a difficult trick. Hummingbirds might
have been better suited for the task, but Branna and Britt were
bluebirds, and they did the best they could.
Finally, the kite sailed smoothly for a brief time, and they were able
to land on the crossbar next to the frightened chipmunks. The period of
calm didn’t last long. Now, they also had to hold on tight. The birds
didn’t want to have to land on the crossbar again.
Branna yelled, “The next time there’s some calm, Colin, you jump on my
back, and wrap your paws around my neck. Keep your rear paws together so
they don’t interfere with my wings. Craig, you do the same with Britt.”
About a minute later, they had an opportunity.
“Go!” yelled Branna.
Colin jumped on Branna’s back and hung on tight, but before Craig could
jump, another gust of wind hit the kite. Both bluebirds were knocked off
of the crossbar. Craig was left hanging by his short claws. Branna
immediately plummeted towards the pond as she was not used to the extra
weight. She used her strong wings to break the fall and regain control.
She was then able to fly back up to the kite.
Bluebirds Rescuing The Chipmunks
Britt was circling and waiting for an opportunity to get back on the
crossbar. After another minute she was able to land, and this time Craig
successfully jumped on her back, and they soon joined Branna and Colin
in mid-air. Then, both birds did a wide, slow turn and went into a long
glide. Two minutes later, they landed right next to Conner on the shore.
Colin and Craig let go and fell off of the bluebirds’ backs to the
ground, safe but very tired. It was so good to be back on the ground.
They hugged each other and thanked Branna and Britt for their heroic
Conner thought that winning 1st prize would be the most exciting part of
his day. It didn’t turn out that way. Sometimes, things happen that you
don’t expect. Luckily, and with a lot of help, the day ended well.
The chipmunks’ kite riding days were over. As the sun set, the now
abandoned kite continued to dip and dart away until it was out of sight.