Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Oct. 23, 2003

"The hills are alive"

The "sounds of music" filled McCain Auditorium last week when a production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music" came to town. Mom, the girls and I were excited about seeing the show. My brother and his wife drove over from Salina to see it, too, because the movie version is my sister-in-law's favorite musical.

In the days leading up to the performance, I belted out, "The hills are alive ... with the sound of music" at every opportunity. The girls rolled their eyes and said, "Mom, please!"

It's kind of a standing joke with our family. Any time someone talks about the musical or when I see the Alps, I start singing and the girls act as if I'm crazy. Art just smiles at the girls with a "how do you solve a problem like Gloria" look.

The first time I saw those beautiful mountains was when Art and I visited Germany and Austria in 1989. We made sure to see them on our subsequent visits, including in the spring of 2001 when we took the girls to Europe the first time. As soon as we headed south from the Bavarian section of Germany into Austria, I began singing. The girls looked at each other and shook their heads.

But they had never seen the movie. It was only later after watching it with me that they began to understand my love affair with the music, the heart-warming story of the von Trapp Family Singers and the beautiful mountains.

Last summer when we visited the Alps - the Swiss Alps this time instead of the Austrian ones - the girls even sang. The pink, yellow, blue and white Alpine flowers and the clear cold streams rushing down the mountains were a feast for our senses.

The movie has been dear to my heart since I first saw it at about age 12. My favorite song is "Edelweiss," and it became a lullaby when I rocked my baby girls to sleep. At the end, instead of singing "bless my homeland forever," I substituted "bless my Mariya forever" or "bless my Katie forever." I still sing it to them on occasion, and I bought each a music box that plays the tune so they'll remember me tucking them in at night when they were growing up.

The other Rodgers and Hammerstein songs - "Maria," "My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," "The Lonely Goatherd," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" and "Something Good" - are so "sing-able" that I can't seem to help myself when I hear them. I join in after the first few words.

I think the girls understand a bit better now. Art told me that Mariya even e-mailed him in Wisconsin about how much she enjoyed the McCain production. And for the next few days after the show, both girls watched our video of the movie. Every now and then, I hear strains of "... when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel so bad ..." ringing through our home, making our little corner of the Flint Hills alive with music.

Mariya, Katie and Art in the Swiss Alps, summer 2003.

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