• Sally

The weather everyone forgets (Weather for kites)

Every year, at the start of dry season (usually in May or June, although sometimes even July), there are a few days that are really different to the ‘tropical’ weather we are familiar with. The sky is cloudy, strong gusts of wind come from every direction, and it’s cold (and, by cold, I mean below 25˚C, but it can get down to teens or even single digits at night). I always think of it as the ‘desert wind’, bringing cold dry air from the centre of the continent. Our Gulumoerrgin (Larrakia) Seasons calendar mentions that, in the season of Damibila, which it shows as running from approximately May-June, “When there is a cold wind, the old people say that flowers are calling the cold weather.” I wonder if this is the wind they are referring to.

When this weather arrives, we pull out our winter clothes (jeans, jumpers, shoes and socks), trying to find something that fits each child, then head to the playground. After months of having the playground to ourselves (many choose to stay indoors during the hot and humid wet season, and often it is just too sunny to be on the scorching play equipment), all of these other families with young children appear. “I don’t remember this weather,” they say. “It’s not usually windy like this.” Yet, it happens every year. Something about this weather is just really forgettable, as if it’s so outside what we usually experience that our brains choose to edit out the anomaly (I don’t know if that’s actually a thing, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some sort of neurobiological explanation to this ‘mass forgetting’).

Recently, I’ve been thinking that X might like to try flying a kite. We’ve had a lot of windy weather (although this is the first period of the cold ‘desert wind’), and whilst I’ve been looking out for a simple kite for him, I have only found fancy elaborate ones for older children. I’ve been half-intending to make one of our own, or at least look out for one when I next go to the Asian supermarket, as they have a wall of toys that I think may include small kites, but I hadn’t got around to it.

Nevertheless, when the weather turned cold and blustery, after putting on all our warm clothes and fuelling ourselves with porridge and hot tea, we set off for the park down the street with the only kite that we owned. The kite was small, but designed as a ‘stunt kite’, so not really suitable for beginners. We spent about half an hour launching the kite, with X running as fast as he could as soon as it caught the wind, only for it to dive to the ground a few seconds later. Eventually, A got tired of watching us from the swing (we’d been giving her occasional pushes between flights) and we decided it was time for us all to sit down and eat the peanut butter popcorn we’d brought with us. That said, the excursion was a success, X couldn’t wait to tell Joël about his kite-flying expedition (our postie even stopped to give us our mail as he rode his buggy past the park, another highlight of the morning, and we also found a coloured marble in the sand under the play structure).

We’re already thinking of how we can design a better kite ourselves, I’m sure we’ll be back at the park in coming weeks to test-fly our own designs (and, one day, I’m sure X will master the stunt kite). It’s funny how, in some countries, all children seem to be out flying kites on windy afternoons, whereas, in others, it seems a forgotten pastime, that needs to be made ‘exciting’ for anyone to want to take part (hence the lack of basic kites for preschoolers despite the numerous fancy versions available).

Does your area experience any annual weather patterns that people seem to forget en masse? Is kite flying popular in your area? Any tips for making our own kite? I’m tossing up between newspaper or a cut-open plastic bag for the back, maybe we’ll just need to try both…