Cape Cod II
Making the air visible
I never got to light sparklers on the beach in Cape Cod and there was something in the dunes that I could not quite get at while I was there, and there was something I could not quite write you last week and because it feels like it has to do with ink and the winds, and because my angry teen spilled my glass of wine, I still feel sharp so I will try again.
I must have been five or six and the kite was extravagant. It was yellow silk with a red unicorn crest. It looked almost too big to fly, but if you started on the dunes and waited until you saw the dune grasses waving, and two kids held up the kite and Papa held the string and then started running along the wet sand, and we started running too, and some kind of special ocean wind tunnelled under the kite and we let go and Papa kept running and held on and it tipped up and the wind lifted it and we were not helping anymore, it was just flying and it was beautiful. Once it was going we got to hold it if we were careful. The kite kept pulling up and up and out over the ocean and it unspooled so fast and it flew so wildly that when we got to the end of the roll of string, we bought another roll of string and tied them together and still the kite kept flying higher. Around the middle of that second roll of string, the yellow diamond with the red unicorn became a yellow smudge with a red dot, and then just a kind of speck in the sky way above the sea and then the kite disappeared. And still the string unravelled. I looked at Papa like are we even allowed to do this? and he was smiling and the string was unrolling with the pulling power of something that was no longer there, and he gave me the roll to hold with both hands and it was hot from its unravelling, and I felt a thing, almost a being, tugging, but it was a thing that could not be seen that was flying on its own adventures with the clouds and the sea-birds. It was attached to me. I could, if I pulled and wound hard enough, bring it back to us but it was also absolutely its own thing, in its own dance with the whole big roundness of the sky.
When I told my editor this story she said, I think you remembered it because you were the age when everything you knew was something you could see and touch and this may have been the first time you experienced something that was both real and invisible. She saw it as an important developmental stage. And maybe that’s true, but still every time I dip a brush into naturally-made ink and the ink touches the paper and begins its inking, I feel the same feeling that I am attached to one end of something that is unimaginably larger than me. That I have a hold of one end of a fine line that is completely in my control but on the other end is something wild.
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For Colour Lab subscribers I have included a few pictures of my favourite designer’s method for making the air visible, results of the poll, and also it’s not too late to join a group of Colour experimenters for a workshop this weekend.
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