Fascination with Flight & Fire

This is the summer when my daughter learned that she cannot fly, even though she tried several different ways. I like people who enjoy extremes. My brother is one of those people. And, my husband.
However, I don’t appreciate the high from participating in extremes: extreme climates, extreme sports, extreme challenges, extreme fighting, extreme lifestyle sampling…not interested. If it ups my odds of being strapped to a gurney, I don’t want my name on the list. Of course, I occasionally have been known to drive a car, take photos from a ferriswheel, fly on commercial airlines, snow ski, ride on a boat…average activities that could result in potentially fatal accidents (it happens everyday), however, I’m not that extreme either—that I habitually wear a helmet. For the most part, I want to stay down down down on the ground ground ground.

“It’s not the flying I have a problem with. It’s smashing into the ground that I have a problem with.”–Jasper Carrott

“Any landing that you can walk away from is a good one!”–Anonymous

Usually, Terry is a dare-devil, but says that he’s becoming less interested in heights and fires. He says that our daughter gets her risk-taking qualities from him. As a child, he rode on the handlebars while his brother biked down a hill on their street and jumped off a homemade ramp…well, the bike never jumped. It tipped the ramp forward and nose-dived, shooting Terry like a slingshot—he broke something, but I can’t remember what (he has broken a lot of bones). Now I remember, he skinned his face against the pavement so badly that he had to wear cold, eye patches for weeks.

“Life rewards the risk-takers.”–Clint Borgen

His Dad arrived at home one afternoon to find Terry’s name written in fire on the driveway (8-year old Terry wrote his name with gasoline and set it on fire). He has countless stories of “flying” (crashing) and “playing” with fire (starting fires).

“The fire is the main comfort of the camp, whether in summer or winter, and is about as ample at one season as at another. It is as well for cheerfulness as for warmth and dryness.”-Henry David Thoreau

My brother was also daring as a child. Instead of playing with fire, he was always trying to fly. One evening when he was about 6, he was taking a bath before dinner. My Mom instructed me to tell him to get out of the bath—dinner was ready. I told him, but he dived under the sloshing bath water and came up grinning and dove again. Whatever, I shrugged and went back in the living room to read my book (I was 10, eyebrows raised like you should know that I’m not a little kid). My parents made me go and tell him again. Same thing. Again. Same thing. Again. Finally, when I stood in the bathroom doorway, I saw that he was standing on the edge of the tub, naked, holding the towel behind him. He tied it around his neck. I rolled my eyes, then he suddenly jumped, arms outstretched, kicked his legs back in a straight line–a moment of flight. I let out a laugh, and then everything went wrong–his face smashed against the counter and the sink that was directly across from the bathtub. His neck whipped backwards, blood shot out onto the white tiles, I screamed, my parents ran in and grabbed my brother who was crying and moaning.
“What did he do?” they asked. I told them.
They asked, “why’d you let him do that?”
Huh. “I didn’t know what he was gonna do.” And we were all off to the hospital for stitches in his chin.

“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”–Leonardo Da Vinci

The next year, we were at my grandmother’s house. I was inside, watching t.v. The boys were supposed to be wandering around the farm. Instead, my cousins were pulling a rope that was looped through my brother’s pants. They pulled him far into the tree, onto a branch that hung above open ground, then they started to swing him back and forth. He rose up to the clouds and swung back down toward the grass, up to the birds and down to the earthworms, as if he were flying until the rope pulled the belt loop seam away from my brother’s pants and gravity caught up with him in a hard thud against his chest. He could barely breathe when their cries and shouts entered the house. My grandmother pushed them back out of the house to inspect the scene of the crime while picking a switch from the same tree.

“Flying may not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.”–Amelia Earhart

Those stories about the first attempts to fly give me joy. Since the fascination with flight and fire captivates most children, I like to hear these stories from friends, acquaintances, and strangers. certainly, I’ll experience more with my daughter–she has made me promise to sky dive with her as soon as she’s old enough.

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