On a tape I made when I was six, I do a shocking rendition of “edelweiss.” Shockingly bad. So bad in fact, that I start over in the middle of the first verse because it’s off-key. The second try didn’t help much, either.
The Sound of Music was a huge part of my childhood. Especially when our younger brother was born, Tara and I found ourselves in front of it often. Mainstream TV was out of the question in our house; my mom hated cartoons about as much as Captain Von Trapp hated the Third Reich. She was more successful than he in keeping them out. But we didn’t mind, in fact, we could probably tell you not only every line, but every outfit from the movie. (Doesn’t the Baroness have some great dresses?)
One summer my family and my mom’s parents went to Vermont and stayed in the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT. (It’s where they lived after they fled from Austria.) I learned that my grandfather’s aunt played music with the REAL Maria Von Trapp. I KNEW there was a reason it drew me in.
So in planning a trip to Europe, I knew I had to get to Salzburg. As Director of Accommodations and Financier for the trip, I booked us a lovely double room at a hostel that had viewings of the movie daily. It did not disappoint (despite the fact that John had to sleep on the floor). I still find my eyes wet when Capt. Von Trapp realizes that he doesn’t know his children and he walks into the music room and joins them in singing “The Hills are Alive,” and Maria, dripping wet from falling in the lake, watches from the hall.
I remember when I first realized more than singing was going on. Words like “Anschluss” out of Capt. Von Trapp’s mouth finally made sense… The ripping of the Nazi flag when they return from their honeymoon… The whole escape part…I also began to question the theology Maria and Geiorge sang in the door frame of the gazebo (somewhere in my wicked, miserable past, I must have done something good? what?). The ah-ha moments probably came a little later than they should have, but nonetheless, they came. However, unlike so many things in life, the added complexity did not take away from the simple beauty of the story (not that it’s super complex). I could watch it over and over and over. I understood the historical context of the movie, and it made it even better. In a way, it’s a metaphor for the entire trip for me; being in Europe gave me a context for so much of history, and it helped me to put the pieces together.
Apparently, there is more to Salzburg than The Sound of Music, and we did some other stuff, like Mozart’s home (snore), and the Salzburg museum. I learned how often the area changed hands over the years, and seeing it, you’ll understand–it’s spectacular. But most fun was running around town reenacting different scenes. I’ll spare you those photos.
Do these look familiar???
“Maria, these walls were not meant to shut out problems. You have to face them. You have to live the life you were born to live.”