My father despised the movie the Sound of Music.
Actually, to be fair he was not a lover of musical in general. Who goes around life singing at the top of their lungs. But he particularly hated the Sound of Music. He, as a person who escaped Austria two months after the war had begun, found their story, a family escaping over the alps so their father didn’t have to join the Reich, suspicious. Actually, that is not the word he would have used. He would have said it was bullshit. A story made up so that they could sell their music and their story. While I won’t go into the details right now as it would take too long, he was by and large right. The storyline you see in the Sound of Music is by and large bullshit..
That being said, I love the musical. I think it is Julie Andrews. Boys of my age had a crush on her. It started with Mary Poppins and move right onto to Maria Von Trapp. Even though I was a psychology major I am not going to unwrap that one. But yowser. My wife also loves the musical and will when asked happily singing you any number of songs from the movie.
Which is why we began our day with a mission to visit the Trapp family lodge in Stowe. I justified the trip, emotionally due to my fathers strong feeling on the subject by saying that they made syrup and this was after all sugar boiling time in Vermont. Our mission was immediately de railed by Rosie when she saw us pass the Ben and Jerry’s corporate HQ. She wanted some Rosie Patch frozen dog treats. We indulged her by going in. Sadly, they were closed. Rosie was a little indignant. After all didn’t they name a treat after her but we managed with a few portfolio shots and she showed her displeasure in a very dog like way.
The Trapp family lodge looks as if a bit of western Austria has been transplanted here in the US. It practically makes you want to yodel. And their names is all over the place. Several condo complexes, a brewery, a restaurant and bakery. They are living large on the American dream. Unfortunately, they were not making sugar that day so we moved on. I have no doubt that my father had a role in all of this.
Luckily, my ever sweet sister had sent me a list of syrup makers that morning and I we were quickly back on Task. Stowe Maple products was just a few miles away but we were greeted by an empty parking lot and a closed sign. We were just about to leave when a lovely older woman tapped on our window and asked if she could help. She turned out to be very helpful guiding us through the intricacies of maple syrup grading and packaging. I returned the favor by buying a ½ gallon jug for my sister the bakery, a quart for me, 2 packages of maple candy (childhood favorite), maple cream (just yummy)and some honey for my honey.
Syruped up, we were then forced to make a decision. How to get to Syracuse. We had three routes to choose from but decided to take the long slow way which would have cross Lake Champlain just south of the Canadian border and then take NY 11 south and west most of the way to Syracuse. It was the right decision as it was a lovely sunlit day with temperatures in the mid sixties which is August weather for these parts. In other words, a perfect day for a drive through rural Vermont and New York.
Lake Champlain, if you have never seen it is a wonder. It is a mini great lake and as I Elaine passed through we both agreed living on its shore would be ideal. At least in the summer. I doubt that my beautiful Brazilian wife has any idea what an upstate NY winter is really like. I still have scars from my experiences here 40 years ago.
As urban and suburbanites, and as people who have lived most of the year in the box, you don’t spend an awful amount of time thinking about how much of this country is devoted to agriculture. Your only thoughts on the matter are weather to buy organic or regular rutabaga. Driving Rt 11 gives you a chance to fully appreciate how we feed each other as you pass mile after mile of cultivated farms. It also gives you a deep impression of what the earliest settlers to this part of the world must have felt. They must have felt like they had died and gone to heaven seeing all this cultivatable land.
The sheer size and isolation of the place and the knowledge of the harshness of the 19th century winters (mini ice age) also helps you understand why so many religious movements in the United States started up here. Mormonism, the Burned-over district, the Second Awakening all took place around here. When I casually mention to Elaine bout how natural it would be to have pluralistic marriages on cold winters night she, understandably, does not speak to me for 50 miles
Eventually, our travels on Rt 11 come to a close. We are forced onto 381 and then 81 and make haste to Syracuse. As we speed along the highway I let Elaine know that this was not the weather I experienced at Syracuse. That more than once while traveling this same road in May I had to manage white out conditions in my 1970 Orange VW Super Beetles. It somehow didn’t seem fair not that I was driving Winnetou, a fully capable 4 wheel drive vehicle, that I should get ideal driving conditions. God is a jokester.