While in Wisconsin I visited the resort and horse ranch where I worked as a hand thirty years ago. As expected there were many changes but its history was left untouched where it mattered most. A clearing through the woods hinted of the path to the old red barn still standing, though with little dignity. The cottages on the lake were all still there but only a few actually lived in.
A fella raking leaves behind the once upon a time office walked up and asked if I was looking for somebody, or in other words wondered why I was trespassing on private property. Once he approached me the grin on his face was ear to ear. It may have been 30 years but there were no more questions about why I was there, he knew. He was one of the hands from way back when, now retired and owned one of the cottages. We headed for the hint of a trail to the barnyard, just like we all did back then twenty times a day, except this time only to reminisce. We passed the ol’ fish house and shed, a common place to hide when you didn’t want to be found. It was one of those places on the ranch that you could look busy among the array of useless treasures. Actually, it was a big junk pile of crap nobody knew what to do with, when it was picked clean of anything useful it was supposed to be burned. However, the ranch owner saved everything and there was no burning going on up there that I ever saw, only some drinking and smoking when nobody was watching. The owner of the ranch has been dead for maybe 20 years, his son Jack owns it now and the junk pile was reduced to a mound of organized clutter.
I found Jack living in cottage number ten, which was his mother’s favorite cabin, maybe because it was the only one that was winterized. She lived in that cottage until she died, I heard she was in her nineties! She was a wonderful lady, cowgirl, and without a doubt the boss of the outfit back when I was there.
It was a great visit, I was assured the no trespassing sign at the Tilden didn’t apply to me, I was still family and always would be no matter how much time passed.
The old barn is being torn down this summer, now I know why I was there, and I don’t believe for a minute it was by chance.