The hills are alive

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, March 9, 2016 9:06 PM

In 1965, when Kevin was eleven and in Catholic school, the nuns – now called sisters so as to be more politically correct – took the kids to the movies. Naturally, they saw a film that had a very Catholic backdrop, coupled with a very political back story. They went to see The Sound of Music. It was the first movie Kevin had seen in a theater and he was enthralled. It remains a happy memory for him, and I think that’s wonderful. I do not have the same happy memory when it comes to The Sound of Music. I think I might have seen it for the first time when it was on television. I also saw Doctor Zhivago the same way. I loved Doctor Zhivago, which also had a political backstory if not background. Maybe because of Omar Sharif. I didn’t have the same warm fuzzies for The Sound of Music. Over the years I have come to outright despise it. It’s not necessarily rational, my hatred. Other than, for the most part, I despise all musicals, though Disney films like Beauty and the Beast don’t count. That particular film remains an all-time favorite. 

But The Sound of Music makes my hair hurt. It’s sugary, sappy, and I’ve never been a fan of Julie Andrews. Or nuns. Yes, that sound you hear is my very devout grandmother, screaming from her grave. 

It’s just not natural for people to burst into song in the middle of, well, anything. That opening scene with the impossible tracking shot that finally zeroes in on Sister Maria on top of a hill/mountain, arms spread, singing at the top of her lungs? It’s ridiculous. 

My apologies to those who love this movie, including the aforementioned husband. 

The song she’s singing at the beginning is the theme song, “The hills are alive with the sound of music.” I actually thought of this song today because our hills are alive too, though not with music. With color. 

The hills behind the house, leading up and over into the infinity known as Babad Do’ag, or Mount Lemmon, have sprung to life in the last two weeks. Always green even in the desperate heat of the summer, they are suddenly overflowing with color. The desert bushes, brittle and buffel are blooming. Yellow and purple cascade down and down. The tops of the saguaros look ready to bud. These tall monuments actually flower in the spring. You can see it happen as the tops grow pods that open at night and close in the morning. For several hours, they look like they’re wearing a crown of flowers. It’s comical and magical. The saguaro in the center of our motor court, which stands about 25 feet high, is always the first to start flowering. This morning we noticed the telling nubs at the top. 

The hills are alive with colors of yellow, purple, red and orange, and green. So many shades of green. The saguaros are a softer, pale green. The ocotillos are deep and vibrant. The palo verde trees are a yellow green, but their flowers are blisteringly yellow. The mesquite trees are simply green, except for the Mexican palo verdes that are a wine color. The bushes, grasses and weeds, all green and lush and thick. Even the weeds here are pretty. 

I marveled at the color in front of me, of the spring that is springing a little too early, but our first here in the new house. I thought I heard music. I looked for Julie Andrews and was pleasantly surprised to find that she wasn’t there. But the hills are most definitely alive in the most beautiful way possible. And that’s what I’m celebrating.

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live out loud

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