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March 11th, 2003

in a Lenten city

The trees drip cheap plastic colored bead necklaces, like so much Spanish moss dipped in plastic. Workmen assiduously take down seating stands. Some are merely metal girded structures, but some stands have wooden walls painted with wild, celebratory figures. The fancy-stand seats have names on them like Councilwoman Jane Doe. A bit of trash strays here and there, although it's entirely uncertain if it's festive trash or trash in permanent residence. The little garden park bears that "they trampled me last Tuesday" look, in which even the flowers look as though Spring has its dangers as well as its blessings. The weather is temperate, the wind is mild, and yet lawyers bear a mildly breeze-assaulted, perspiring perplexion as they muddle on to court. A boarded up set of windows across the street suggests that somebody has given up something, but nobody is quite sure what is left to give. The fat is gone. Renewal is yet to come.

a little golden book of kites

"Even today, in our matter-of-fact culture, there is something just a little beyond simple in the way a kite extends your hand's reach into the sky"--Wyatt Brummitt

Sunday evening I stopped in Paperbacks Plus, the wonderful used bookstore near my old home in Mesquite. I got a goodish number of used books--some old hardcover novels by people I never heard about before, and several chapbooks of tropical fish information (I like the fish book "Coldwater Fishes", with its tales of sunfish and bullhead catfish).

But my favorite book is called "Kites", by Wyatt Brummitt, which is illustrated with gorgeous drawings by Enid Kotschnig. This little four by six "Golden Handbook Guide" has 120 pages of history, how-to, cool photos and neat-o sketches. When it was first published in 1971, it cost only 1 dollar and 25 cents. This booklet tells the reader about the history of kites, how to make kites, how they work, and what their many uses are and have been. It equips one for all the things one might ever need to do with a kite--fly one, talk about one, savor watching one.

I am a firm believer in eighth grade reading level guides to just about anything. So many times in our era of laudable specialization, we overlook the simple pleasure of knowing just a little about a lot of things in a useful way. I used to believe in the Wise. Now I am much more inclined to believe in delta wing kites, feeder guppies, books which open vistas to inner and outer worlds which sometimes elude one, cheap telescopes, hand-made music and crafts, throwaway cameras, and the sight of a lightning bug in June, blazing away, in clear sight of a quiet viewer watching in the dark.