Monday, November 07, 2005

Higher than a Kite

The bright blue straps of the zip line seat girdle my waist and thighs with a snug fit. Thick webbing with two leads, each terminating in a heavy metal clasp, lashes tightly through a loop in the harness, along with a zip line trolley as big as my fist. A red plastic climbing helmet sits on my head, the inside band tightened, the strap under my chin secure. On my turn, I step up onto a large log so that the guide can clip my trolley and safety lines in place.

”Which hand?” the guide asks.

“Left,” I answer.

The trolley snaps onto a half-inch steel cable with a reassuring clunk. One safety line clips on beside the trolley; the second safety line hooks onto the first. I wrap my leather glove-clad hand across the top of the trolley and pull the safety line hook in tight with my thumb. My right hand lays rests lightly on top, waiting to do its job.

“Step down.”

Suddenly, the edge of the platform feels acutely close to my toes. I am teetering 30 or 40 feet off the ground. I sit back into the zip line seat as much to lean away from the edge as to follow the instructors training advice.

“That’s good,” she coos, “just lean back and relax. It’s easier to lift your feet off the platform that way than to step off the edge into the air.”

I nod without speaking. I do not want to be distracted. From a platform high in a bald cypress tree somewhere ahead, a distant figure yells back, “Ready.”

When my guide says, “Go,” I lift my feet and sail away. Warm air turns cool as it whooshes by me. The scenery is moving too fast, defying my attempts to see anything. I look down at the ground, which falls away as I move forward, so I can fix this moment of glory in my mind’s eye and let out a long, happy yell.

I am flying and I love it.


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