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The Hidden Magic of Fall at The Ranch

by Cassidy Gillard

Summer is over and things at the ranch have slowed down quite a bit. Although most of the staff returned to “the real world,” a few of us haven’t quite made it out yet, and we’re certainly not complaining.

Emma stuck around to feed us incredible food and bless us with her beautiful spirit. Meghan has been here working on getting our 2015 photo albums put together, and following her dream of learning to play the ukulele. D’Arcy has been helping out at the corral, and doing some sorting and organizing projects. Missy’s been working on paperwork and office things, as well as some painting and staining around the ranch, making everything look good. Oreo and Philip recently oiled the floor in the main lodge, and have been working with Mike on some projects. TJ finished rebuilding the quarter pipe, and is now working on making the trail behind the lodge nice and smooth and even. I have been working on cleaning cabins.

I am always excited to clean cabins after a summer. The treasures I find left by staff are, yes, sometimes disgusting, but some are really beautiful and allow me to see a different side of people that I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to experience. I found at least a million socks, an iPod, lots of toothbrushes, clothing, a sketchbook, love letters, pictures, Joy Jar notes… I love looking at the piles of treasures and creating a story out of them. Even though I was living with these people, and at least hearing versions of every single thing that they were up to, I am able to find pieces of their stories that are untouched and untold.

The iPod that I found has absolutely no music on it, and only three pictures, yet it looks as though it has been through quite a lot with the screen totally cracked and scratched up. Who did it belong to, and what on earth did someone use an iPod for if not music and photos? There aren’t any games, or even any apps, other than the standard ones that come with the iPod.

Even the socks make me curious. Where have they been? How recently were they washed? (I’m all for wearing clothes a few times before washing them…but socks deserve very regular washing.)

I always feel reassured when I discover the untold stories, and although reading the love letters, and exploring the sketchbook could be a little nosy, I still have no way of knowing what the art means, and I can really only guess what kind of poetic emotion was poured into the love notes. I simply explore them with no knowledge, no judgement, and the creative capacity to turn material things into stories.

I feel so lucky that I was able to find all of these treasures and to discover that my curiosity and imagination are still intact. I was distracted from the fact that I was cleaning up after people, cleaning the bathrooms – once camp ended, so did weekly cabin cleanings … gross - and sweeping up piles of dirt that filled at least two dust pans per room. Although the stories I created were based on the staff of the summer of 2015, it’s almost as though I discovered whole new characters with the mystery of their untold stories.

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