Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Echo Hill

It had been 13 years since I'd been to Echo Hill Ranch.  Thirteen years since I spent my summers in an un-air-conditioned bunkhouse, filled with girls I'd known my entire life, deep in the Texas hill country. And when I set foot back on the ranch for the 60th anniversary reunion weekend, I was instantly transported back to the way I felt when I was 15 - who I was and who I still am.  The smell and the energy and the heat and the magic are all the same - stuck in time in the most beautiful and authentic way.  And I felt that pressure in my heart creep into my throat and I knew I didn't stand a chance surviving the weekend without acknowledging the completely majestic and overpowering effect that is Echo Hill.  That's right, folks, I made it about 30 seconds back on the ranch before the tears started flowing.

I think I was just overwhelmed with it all.  That I was back in the place where my problems and my waistline were once both much smaller than they are now.  Where strength was your counselor lifting a trash can full of bug juice onto the bed of a truck and masculinity was a wrangler galloping around flag lowering before Hoe Down.  When 3:30 pm meant siesta and an eastward facing screened window was the only thing you needed.  Where beauty was seen in the campfire soot under your nails and leaders sang every word to the silliest of songs.  Where I was my truest self - my best self - and if you could capture the scent of cedar and sunscreen and bubble gum all laced together with the faint memory of cigar smoke you would hold onto it forever.  A place where four weeks is enough time to become lifelong friends and find yourself and fall in love.  Where you can count every star and hear every bug and feel every change in the wind.  Where you heart is its most open and your mind its most free.  Where everyone wins and you always leave a place cleaner than you found it.

I used to sing for my bunk in the pavilion.  They would make requests and I would perform!

 Ooooh, if these wagon wheels could talk... 

"Kimmy Harberg"

 At free swim with one of my oldest, dearest friends.

 The Echo Hill symbol in white rocks.

 My people.

And every night we would sing this song before passing the squeeze around our bunk friendship circles:
"Green trees around us, blue skies above
Friends all around us in a world filled with love.
Taps sounding softly, hearts beating true
As we all say, "Goodnight to you!"
Day is done gone the sun 
From the lakes, from the hills, from the skies.
All is well safely rest.
G-d is nigh."



  1. and now I have tears! That was so beautiful! I'm so bummed i missed it. Amazing writing, Kimmy!

  2. You captured my sentiments exactly. It has been almost 20 years since I stopped spending my summers at Echo Hill, but it doesn't matter. This past weekend brought it all back and it was hard to leave EHR - as it always was.