GLEN EWEN - Michele Stonehouse was happy to find a hobby that her and her partner Andy Poliszuk could share.
“He has got a lot of hobbies he likes, but this is finally something that we both like to do,” she said.
And even though they have only been flying their large kites for a month, they already have 15 with more ordered and on the way.
“It is so windy here,” Stonehouse said. “He just one day had an urge to fly a kite.”
Poliszuk first tried making his own kite at home by cutting wooden cross beams, but gave up shortly after when looking online and realizing that buying was easier and had better options.
There is a store in Alberta and another in Nebraska where they purchase kites. They also buy directly from China via a website.
Their largest kite is a yellow and orange one called The Tadpole, which is eight meters across, and it is one of those that came from China,
“Kites were invented 2,300 years ago, before Jesus,” Poliszuk said with a chuckle.
Weifang is the city in China that claims to be the birthplace of the kite, manufacturing and selling more than 200,000 kites a year, making it the kite capital of the world.
Many of the large kites have to be anchored down with homemade fabricated steel t-bars that Poliszuk made himself, because once the kite goes up, if it is not secure, you will find yourself being dragged across the field. Though to date they have fortunately not lost a kite.
Some knot-making knowledge and leather gloves are also a must when handling the heavy 500-tensile strength line. Though the big ones are not recommended for smaller children, almost anyone can physically man the large kites. Handled incorrectly though, such as wrapping the line around a finger can mean maybe losing that finger or getting a bad rugburn.
Once the Tadpole is high enough, its large air chambers catch the wind and make a whistling noise that sounds unworldly. Stonehouse confessed that kite flying was relaxing and their favourite thing to do once they got the line of kites up high in the air. Then they just sit in their lawn chairs, with the back of the SUV up for shade, and watch.
“It is nothing like being a kid. Running isn’t the proper way of doing it,” they said.
Once they have gone to the trouble of getting the large kites up, it can be just as much of a workout to get them down. The 180 feet of vibrating line, between the person and the kite, can’t be reeled in by hand. It has to be lowered using a handheld pulley system, which a person feeds the line into while walking towards the kite, bringing it down to ground level.
Stonehouse and Poliszuk have been in Glen Ewen for 15 years and live just down the street from the ball diamonds where they can be found almost every day in the late afternoons flying their kites.
“Lots of young families are moving to town and we invite everyone out. When my granddaughter comes down from P.A. [Prince Albert] she just loves it,” Poliszuk said.
Along with the locals, the kites are appreciated by anyone driving by.
“Some of the kites can be seen miles away, people often pull over off the highway to stop and take pictures or honk when they drive past,” said Stonehouse.
People when stopping by might also stop to see someone on a two-handed parafoil kite or perhaps one of the colorful octopus brothers Ollie and Oscar, with colours of orange or blue.