“Common Ground” column for April 5, 2013

In today’s fast-paced, hectic world where cellphones, satellite television and online social networks vie for our everyday attention, kites are just the relief we sometimes need to escape.

My family’s favorite annual festival involves nothing more than a nice wind, a big field, kites, bands and lawn chairs at Kite Fest Louisiane in Port Allen.

Hundreds of people are going to be there Saturday and Sunday, escaping to touch the clouds with their homemade or store-bought kites for a weekend where technology can take a back seat.

In previous years, we’ve watched seemingly hundreds of kites in every shape, size and color fill the air.

My children usually design and make their own kites at activity centers under the festival tents. My 8-year-old son wants to attach his kite to his imaginary paper friend, Flat Stanley. Flat Stanley is a book character who travels around the world in mailboxes, on kites or in any place where he can flatten himself.

Once my kids get their kites into the air, they usually stage minicompetitions among themselves to see whose kite will fly longer and higher. My job is to untangle their kites and separate the strings after they have run and bumped into one another.

I’m planning to fly a fairly unimpressive kite, probably one of those cheap diamond-shaped, pre-packaged ones, which actually fly quite well.

I flew my first kite around age 6 or 7. It was a windy day and my father brought me to a grassy field beside a school. As the kite flew higher and higher, I stared into the sky and admired the tranquility of the day. It wasn’t until the kite got hung up in a tree that my eyes fell back to earth. Nevertheless, the kite made a lasting impression on me.

Today, when I fly kites, I still feel exhilarated watching them rise into the air and duck and dive according to the wind.

It reminds me of fishing; it’s therapeutic, simple and uncomplicated. Once you let the line out, the kite rises and soars in the wind like a bird. In fishing, something I do maybe once a year, you place your line in the water, relax, watch the water and wait.

Each brings us closer to nature — giving us time to think, look inside ourselves, have fun and escape routine for a little while.

Kite Fest is all of those things wrapped into one.

Throughout the festival, professional kite flyers perform kite ballets and in the evening glow-in-the-dark kites dance through the sky in unison.

I visited a few online retailers to see what kinds of kites we might see this year. The 3D dragon kites will probably be big. They are majestic, eye-stopping, and well, their movements mimic the dragon, including the ripple in the tail.

My children’s indoor games and electronic gadgets will probably take a back seat for a day or two following the festival. They will want to fly kites in the backyard, finding delight in something that doesn’t require a charger, a plug or a game cartridge.

Chante Warren can be reached at chantewriter@hotmail.com.