I don’t know of any family relationship that exists in my family or in Bob’s family, but I have always had an interest in Benjamin Franklin anyway. I have done a lot of hiking in my life, and sometimes, like it or not, bad weather comes in before we were done with our hike. I think anyone who has hiked much knows that one of your worst enemies on a hike…other than mountain lions, bears, or snakes…is lightning. Personally, when I start to hear thunder, I figure it’s time to head for shelter, but when you are four or five miles from your car, in the middle of a bunch of trees, heading for shelter isn’t always an easy task.
Ben Franklin, on the other hand saw lightning as a challenge to be explored. I think he had to have known the dangers of such an adventure, because he was a scientist after all. That didn’t really matter to him much, or if it did, he did not show it. Ben Franklin became interested in electricity in the mid-1740s. Not much was known about the subject, but he would spend the next decade conducting experiments using electricity. It was Ben who coined terms still in use today. You now them…battery, conductor, and electrician. He also invented the lightning rod, which is now used to protect buildings and ships. All of these things came from his many experiments. Ben Franklin was an amazing man, publisher, and writer, but it is really not in his writings that I find myself intrigued, but rather his electrical experiments. On this day, June 10, 1752, Ben flew his now infamous kite during a thunderstorm to collect a charge in a Leyden jar, when the kite was struck by lightning. He wanted to demonstrate the electrical nature of lightning.
Benjamin Franklin was born January 17, 1706. People might think that Benjamin Franklin was a highly educated man, but in reality, his formal education ended at age ten. Then he went to work for his brother, James as a printer, but after a dispute in 1723, he left Boston and moved to Philadelphia and found work as a printer. He moved to London for a short time and worked there as a printer, and then returned to Philadelphia. He became a successful businessman whose publishing ventures included the Pennsylvania Gazette and Poor Richard’s Almanack, a collection of homespun proverbs advocating hard work and honesty in order to get ahead. Eventually, Benjamin Franklin became an overachiever…or at least in the eyes of many people. I think he was just interested in a lot of things.
Of course, we all know about Benjamin Franklin’s career as a statesman, which spanned for decades, his years as a legislator, and his diplomatic years in England and France. He is the only politician to have signed all four documents fundamental to the creation of the US: the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), the Treaty of Paris (1783), which established peace with Great Britain, and the U.S. Constitution (1787). Yes, he was an all around amazing man, but I will always love the idea of his lightning experiments the best.
I’m not a wind lover. In fact, most of the time the wind annoys me, but there are things that actually require the wind to accomplish their goal. I remember as a kid, trying to fly a kite a few times. I was never very good at it, which is probably why I didn’t do it very much. Nevertheless, I love watching someone, who knows how, fly a kite. There is just something about watching that kite floating effortlessly on air…provided I don’t necessarily have to be sitting outside in the wind when all that is going on. Watching from my car or my window works just fine for me. One of my favorite times to watch kite flying is when it is a little kid trying to do it. Their little legs just don’t go fast enough to get the kite in the air, but the have a really great time trying…at least for a while. Then they get frustrated, just like everyone else, and if you don’t help them get that kite in the air, they are pretty much over the whole thing.
I love watching the birds on a windy day. What we consider an annoyance, they look at as the perfect way to play. They spread their wings and head into the wind. The wind holds them in place, without even having to try to fly. And they can stay there like that for quite a while. It seems so effortless, and yet, it might be a lot of work for them for all we know. Nevertheless, to see a bird in hover mode is as cool as watching them soar into the wind in playful flight. Here in Casper, we have some pigeons that fly around in the downtown area. I know that the downtown merchants don’t really like them much, because of the mess they leave, but if you sit down for just a few minutes and watch them dip and soar, always in a group, always of one accord, always beautiful, you will find yourself having a hard time faulting them for the mess…or at least that’s how I feel.
For me personally, a windy day is such an annoyance. It messes up my hair, and believe me, there is not enough hair spray on the planet, instant freeze or otherwise, to make your hair stay in place on a windy day. Still, the kid me remembers wearing a jacket out on a windy day, and lifting it above my head to make a sail, and letting the wind pull me out into it a little. It makes me feel just a little bit like a bird or maybe a kite, and reminds me that even the wind has its good points, few as they may be. Maybe I should give that whole jacket sailing thing a try again sometime…I mean, maybe floating on air would lend a little bit of freedom to an otherwise responsibility filled life.
When I think back on my childhood days, flying a kite ranked right up there with cool things to do, although I wasn’t much good at it. When my grandchildren were little and our friend, Dani was babysitting for my girls, she used to take the kids, and her kids to all kinds of events. She was amazing with the kids. She would take 5 to 6 kids to these events, and everyone would have a great time and stay together. On this particular day, Dani took the kids to an event that included flying a kite. My grandson, Christopher, had a wonderful time, but I’m not too sure how much kite flying really went on.
Sometimes all a guy really needs is a little bit of help, right. So Dani stepped in to see if she could help him get his kite in the air. I don’t know if that helped or not, but the kids always had so much fun with Dani, that it didn’t matter. He was a kid floating on air, because he was outside, having the time of his life flying a kite. Running as fast as his little legs would carry him. Feeling the wind in his face…the freedom to run…to fly…at least to fly the kite. Christopher was like most boys. A good day was being outside playing and enjoying the sunshine, the warmth, and yes, even the wind, because when you’re a kid a windy day didn’t mean being grouchy because you hate the wind, it meant that today was a good day to go fly a kite.
I suppose that if Chris had been as tall then as he is now, he wouldn’t have had any trouble getting his kite in the air. It seems like the kite is bigger than he is, but he is giving it the old college try. He has always been that way. He hates to give up. Of course, judging from the pictures, there wasn’t a lot of wind here that day…how did that happen anyway…and that didn’t help to get his kite in the air. The good news is that on a day like this, it doesn’t matter much. For a kid, going anywhere to play is a really good day, because what is flying a kite about anyway…playing, right! It’s about being a kid on a lazy summer day with nothing to do but go fly a kite.