February 18
Froid fou en Saint Placide

We'd come for the annual Festi-Vent sur Glace, an hour north of Montreal. David and Susan Gomberg, and Rod and Cindy Thrall were the featured international guests. The mayor himself showed up at the airport to meet us and the welcome couldn't have been more warm. We stopped in town for a sip of Canadian whiskey, and then arrived at our cozy bed and breakfast for a cognac nightcap. But no amount of alcohol could distract us from what we knew waited in the morning.

Cold. Brutal, blistering, mind-numbing cold.

The morning thermometer read 17 below. That's fahrenheit. And that was without wind. By the time we got on the lake, wind-chill pushed the temperature to 40 below. Ice was over three feet thick. Drills weren't long enough to push through for anchors so we tried ice screws. And every time we took a glove off to try and tie a knot, we knew we were way, way out of our element....

Flying Field

Shelter from the Cold

How do I describe the feeling? Exposed skin tingles. Eyes sting. Breath through your nose and everything freezes. Ice forms on the scarf across your mouth. And the porta potties are filled with rock salt to keep steaming "things" from freezing solid.

All I could think of was the balmy days at Kites on Ice where it was an incredible 55 degrees warmer...

Fortunately we were provided with a fishing house, firewood and a stove for warmth and shelter. We'd run out to the field, tie a knot or pull out a kite, then run back in to try and warm again.

The Canadains thought we were all a bunch of wimps. They were properly dressed and running around the field like it was a spring afternoon. Rod and I suspected they were fortifying themselves with a local beverage called Caribou which was a flammable mixture of red wine and gin.

Cold Ripstop Cold Ripstop Cold Ripstop

We launched the penguin, the bear, a flock of gecko, and a series of airforms. The new yellow octopus even made it out of the bag. And at one point, while working the lines with both hands, Susie instinctively popped a carabiner between her lips to hold it for a moment. She won't be doing that again.....

Sunday the wind dropped off which made it seem warmer. But by then, we'd begun to run out of firewood.

Running kites around the field seemed impractical so we worked our lifters and occasionally coaxed the big pieces into the air. Other fliers used more unconventional approaches.

At the end of the day, we began the task of stuffing kites back into bags for the trip home. But we quickly discovered that the fabric had stiffened in the cold and was taking three times the space. Packing became just one more memorable event on this memorable trip.

Ultralight Rokkaku

Of course, if you think we didn't have fun, you'd be making a huge mistake. Saint Placide was a great gathering of good, hardy fliers. We saw old friends and made new ones. We had fun! And we'd definitely be delighted to go back -- next June...

Special News for Update Readers!

Maybe you saw our new Sutton Streamers when we introduced the big one a few weeks back. They are huge tails designed for the larger Flowforms. The big "252" model is 10x100 feet, and the smaller "125" is 7.5x75 feet. And the introductory price is just $159 and $99 respectively.

Giant Streamer

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