101… On Mirador for the kite flying contest.
The winds of Álamos more come than go and when they are blowing kite flying takes place across the barrios. Sticks, paper, string are a child’s opportunity to take flight and be one with the elements. The child in all of us enjoys watching children enthralled with their kites dancing on a breeze.
On the day of the festival kites, and their builders-owners, are seen on their way to and returning from El Mirador. Colorful pennants snapping in the winds on El Mirador announce to the people below that today celebrates a special event.
The kite flying contest was started by Cammie Nuzum and her then husband Chaco Valdez. These photos are from the 1996 festival. The recent 2012 contest was sponsored by Cammie and Elizabeth Nuzum. Kites were not always a place for children’s imaginations to soar. One of the first written records of kite flying is from around 200 B.C., Chinese General Han Hsin of the Han Dynasty wanted to know how far his troops would need to tunnel to enter a rival city. He flew a kite to measure the distance. With this information in hand his army was able to surprise the enemy and capture the city.
Joan and Earle Winderman, that is a nice kite flying name, enjoyed a sunny day on El Mirador. Besides myself, they were the only gringos I saw at the festival. Whether one is flying a kite, or a spectator, everyone watches the kites.
The kites become what their builders want them to be. Days of design and construction lead up to contest. There is much to learn building a kite. Natural science, mathematics, aeronautics, history, culture, art and crafts come together as a flying objects and opportunities for self-expression.
The Museo Costumbrista de Sonora displays the kites after the contest. For centuries kites were used by only by the military. Around the year 600, during the Silla Dynasty of Korea, General Gim Yu-sin’s troops refused to continue fighting because they has seen a shooting star and believed this was a bad omen. The General sent a fire ball into the sky with a large kite. The soldiers, seeing the star return to heaven, rallied and defeated the rebels.
Buddhist monks brought kites to Japan around the 7th century. They were thought to be able to protect rich harvests and deter evil spirits. During the Edo period kite flying became very popular when Japanese people below the samurai class were allowed to participate. The Edo (now Tokyo) government tried unsuccessfully to discourage this pastime as “too many people became unmindful of their work.”
Álamos is a wonderful place to fly kites especially from El Mirador up high and open to the winds that carry molecules Caesar, Leonardo da Vinci and Marilyn Monroe breathed. There is a timeless quality to kite flying. It is as as much about the flyer’s thoughts as it is about flying.
Kite flying began in Asia and slowly word spread to Europe. Marco Polo, around the end of the 13th century, brought back to Europe stories of kite flying. Period Illustrations showed military banners with non-flying dragon kites. 16th and 17th century sailors brought kites back from Japan and Malaysia. Kites at first had little impact on European culture and were regarded as curiosities.
Standing with their backs to the Sea of Cortez, the kite-flyers work the western on-shore winds and the drafts that come from the eastern Sierra Madre foothills.
As time marched on kites became universal and many used kites as scientific research tools.
In the 18th and 19th centuries men like Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Wilson learn more about the wind and weather used their knowledge of kite flying. Airplanes came about with the help of kite experiments by Sir George Caley, Samuel Langley, Lawrence Hargrave, Alexander Graham Bell, and the Wright Brothers.
Here atop El Mirador the Sea of Cortez is some fifty miles to the west and the Copper Canyonlands are some fifty miles to the east. One could say the kite-flyer’s feet mark the center of the universe and their kites announce ownership of the moment.
Warmth Radiates off of Adobe Walls as Another Winter Day Begins.
Kite flying is popular in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. Drinking beer outside the pickup with friends is popular. Fun and work go on side by side as we visit a wood shop.
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