"Relying on Nature"

Every summer for nine years, my family had made the seventeen-hour trek from the freeways, housing complexes, and automobiles of southern Orange County to the trails, log cabins, and horses of the “the Ranch.” I have come to depend on this time, as William Wordsworth so eloquently expressed, “knowing that Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Every year brings the construction of more condominiums, the leveling of more hiills and the influx of more computerized technology; and every year I look to the Ranch as an unchanging source of refuge. At the Ranch there are no phones, televisions or electric blankets, and no bills to pay or thank-you letters to write. It does not matter that I went to the prom with Joe Shmoe, that I got the highest grade on my Calculus test, or that I scored three goals in our soccer game. I am accepted for “who” I am as opposed to “what” I am, and I do not need to work to be taken in as a part of the “popular crowd’” As a matter of fact, I am laughed at for wearing more than old Levi’s and a t-shirt. Even though we are only together for one week out of every year, the relationships I have made at the Ranch will undoubtedly last the rest of my life because they have a natural foundation. Too many times in “hip” California, relationships are developed on the artificial foundation of outside materialistic need. Don’t get me wrong. If asked to create a better place than southern Orange County or, more specifically, Dana Hills High School, I could not. There are beaches for perfecting my bikini tan, mountains for trying out my Rossignol STS’s, and shopping centers for testing my dad’s credit card. More importantly there are cultural theatres and museums, medical research centers, and incredibly talented individuals. It is just nice to escape the fast-paced and ever-advancing Californian society for one week out of each year. With this one week of being close to nature, I feel that I have developed a strong foundation to fall upon whenever my moral standards are questioned. Although the time spent at the Ranch makes up a mere one-fifty-second (1/52) of my life, it makes up fifty-one-fifty-seconds(51-52) of my character. I can judge people without looking at the brand on their pants or the names of their friends. For this reason, and “knowing that Nature never did betray the heart that loved her,” I realize that no amount of money and no quantity of plaques would be worthwhile if it were not for relationships like those developed during my seven-day stay at the Ranch.
Stephanie (Teppi) Hawkins (1986