In 1990, I was living and working in Chicago. I’d been flying kites for a few years at that point, but really became hooked after I somehow found my way to a place called Busse Woods, or Ned Brown Meadow, in Schaumburg, IL. There, I discovered a group of kite flyers that were welcoming and enthusiastic, and willing to share their knowledge and love of kiting with the new guy. Fate soon took me back to my home town of Rockford IL, but I didn’t lose my connection to Ned Brown Meadow or my group of friends that assembled there.
I was working in the restaurant business at that time, so I always worked on weekends. I did the schedule though, so I always scheduled myself to work the night shift on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday morning, and often Sunday too, always saw me throwing the kites in the truck, or strapping them to the back of the motorcycle, and making the 90-minute drive to Ned Brown to fly with my friends. I’d stay as long as possible, leaving with barely enough time to get to work for my shift, changing clothes in the storage shed. Many of the people I flew with at Ned Browm became more than kite friends, they became my tribe. They became the family I chose.
One day while strapping the kites to the bike for the trip back to work, one of my flying buddies asked me a question. She asked, “Why do you drive all the way here to fly kites when there are probably places to fly by you?” My answer was quick and simple, and as obvious to me as breathing. ‘I don’t come here to fly kites, I come here to fly kites with you guys’. Twenty nine or so years later, many of those people are still dear friends, and I think of them as family. Although I haven’t been there in many years, I still consider Ned Brown Meadow my home field. In many ways, it’s the place where the man I am today was born.
Which, in a roundabout kind of way, brings us to where we are today… (to be continued)