I drew my arm back and with a flick of the wrist let the boomerang fly. It
was out of my control. To an observer it may have appeared to be attached
to a string I held, for it banked to the left and carved out a circle
heading back towards me. As it got closer it increased in altitude, slowing
and hovering as it settled down into my hands. I clamped them together and
felt the exhilaration of a perfect execution.
Boomerangs were like relationships. You got out what you put in and never
had complete control of the process. The boomerang decided whether it would
return and some days, if the conditions were bad, it would never come back.
Selecting a suitable boomerang for the conditions helped but not always.
Some boomerangs would never fly. Like my grandfather's boomerang, the one
he got from Queensland during the war. When he showed me it as a boy I was
awed. It was dark brown, almost black in places and quite large (about the
size of my arm). He had thrown it once that I remember, down at the beach,
but it hadn't returned. Still I was smitten and convinced him to make me
and my brothers some smaller ones to throw in the bush. They never returned
either, but the fun was in the making and the games we played.
Recently I had taken the big 'rang to the park and thrown it with
confidence. Instead of banking to the left it had soared up high, directly
in front of me then roller-coastered back down almost taking off my head.
Inspecting its design and comparing it with a book, I realised it was not
Wind is the natural enemy of the boomerang - contrary to popular belief. I
had always thought that the wind pushed the 'rang back to the thrower.
Graham informed me otherwise. I met him at the beach one morning. I was
there for a swim but when I arrived I saw him standing on the edge of the
water throwing boomerangs. It was very calm as he tossed them out to sea
and caught them as they returned. It looked very Zen-like and I walked up
to him to find out more. That was when he told me that he never threw when
it was windy. He patiently explained to me about the aerodynamics - lift,
rotation, processional motion, angular momentum - pointing out the
modifications he had made.
My first boomerang came from the gift shop Graham suggested. It didn't work
so I proceeded to adjust the aerofoils as he had shown me. It still didn't
return. Luckily, before I gave up, I tried another shop and was rewarded
with a 'rang (which had a guarantee of flightmanship stamped on it), and a
book about throwing and making boomerangs. Armed with knowledge and a
guaranteed boomerang, I practiced and practiced until I could throw. Like
my marriage to Susan, I also learnt when to walk away. Some days and some
'rangs just never worked no matter how hard I tried.