The return to the traveling music teacher began at 1:30 this afternoon as I boarded the flight to Frankfort, Germany. Six months of solid work at my school behind me, seven weeks of traveling and teaching ahead, first East to Europe, then West to Southeast Asia with a 24 hour re-fuel in-between back in San Francisco. I write from the Youth Hostel in Salzburg where the mechanical clock says 7 pm and my body’s clock says “Huh?”
Always bizarre to think back that the day began on a warm Spring day in San Francisco with a walk to the Farmer’s Market and now I’m plunged into a rainy winter evening in Salzburg. Not only is body time disoriented, but the ancient self that started to awaken and blossom with the flowers takes two giant steps backward into the last clutches of winter. No daffodils here dare raise their heads, any snow flurries are the real deal and not plum blossoms blowing off in a Spring breeze. People walk by clutching their jackets and bent down against the cold, no slow sauntering welcoming birds back from down South. Here in Central Europe beneath the Austrian Alps, it will be at least another six weeks or so before folks start to re-awaken with the earth. And even then, cautiously for at least another month.
But a mere three weeks from now, this traveler will leap from Winter to Summer, travel with lighter suitcases and step off the plane in Malaysia straight into the heat of July in March. Here is something new under the sun— none of our ancestors for the entire history of humankind minus the last 75 years or so of flying ever experienced such instant shift of seasons. Florida before, say 1950, was inhabited by Florideans, not folks from New York or Minnesota boarding the plane to dodge the next blizzard and retreat to their Winter’s Summer home.
And so this body in canon with itself, this psyche with the back foot in Spring and the front foot in Winter, takes off into downtown Salzburg to search out dinner. This home away from home welcoming me back as it has year after year for 25 years. The Schloss castle dependably perched on the hill in city’s center, the snow-capped peaks of Untersberg Mountain looking down on me, the rushing Salzsach River still hurrying to nowhere, just going about their business and not wondering why I still don’t speak German. The 39-year old who first came here like a pilgrim to the Orff Institut Mecca not so different from the 63-year old who returns yet again except for a quarter century of experiences proving that the path has been a worthy one, indeed, an extraordinary one. It has called forth every ounce of talent, passion, intelligence and love I could dig up and rewarded it many times over with the extraordinary breakthroughs of ordinary people, the ordinary promises of extraordinary people.
Now let’s see if I can still decipher German menus. Bitte.