March Winds

Part VI

Kite Flying

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:

1-FOOT KITES

1st - Fiona Frog, 18 points

2nd - Brie Bluebird, 16 points

3rd - Faith Frog, 14 points

2-FOOT KITES

1st - Sofie Squirrel, 17 points

2nd - Melrose Mole, 16 points

3rd - Bartley Bluebird, 14 points

3-FOOT KITES

1st - Conner Chipmunk, 18 points

2nd - Stoddard Swan, 17 points

3rd - Declan Duck, 16 points

4-FOOT KITES

1st - Dahlia Duck, 18 points

2nd - Wilde Weasel, 16 points

3rd - Birch Beaver, 13 points

BOX KITES

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.

Chipmunk Rescue

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 efforts.

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.