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50 Latitudes (USA) Feature

The 50 Latitudes Feature will showcase Latitudes from a resident of each US state in their own words to illustrate that despite age, sex, location, or occupation, every living being on the planet has a favorite Latitude.  A person's favorite Latitude is not restricted to their home state.

Entries in Michigan (1)

Tuesday
Mar222011

Michigan

The lake is called Walloon.

It’s located in northwest Michigan not far from the town of Petoskey.  Walloon is almost unnaturally blue, so blue in fact that as it comes into view when I return to it – no matter if I’ve been away for an hour or a year – the sight takes my breath away. 

It was here on Lake Walloon that our family was defined.  And it is here on Lake Walloon that our family continues to evolve and grow. 

This place … this house on this lake … is the emotional and spiritual epicenter of my life. 

It began at a place on the shores of Walloon called Michigania, the University of Michigan Alumni Family Camp.  On one level Michigania is a collection of comfortably rustic cabins, a dining hall, tennis courts and a beach.  But on another level, as those who have been there will attest to, Michigania is much, much more than that.  It is a place filled to overflowing with love.  There’s no other single word to describe it.

It is my love for this place that has fueled lifelong friendships and painted extraordinarily vivid memories in the scrapbook of my mind.

My wife Marnie and her family were among the very first UM alumni families to camp at Michigania.  She worked there as a lifeguard every summer while she was in college in Ann Arbor.  With our daughters Emily and Gillian, we went to Michigania for over a dozen consecutive years.  Emily became the very first second generation staff member, and sat on the very same lifeguard chair that her mother used years before.  Gillian worked on staff every summer during her college years.  And years ago, I wrote a song about the place called Hey, Michigania!   Campers still sing it, which makes me very proud.

The Dark Green House is located about a mile down the shore from Michigania, on a hill overlooking the lake.  I still can’t believe the house is ours.  We purchased a small home on the site in 1999.  Two years ago, we tore it down and built the Green House.  We did this in spite of some very daunting economic challenges because at the time nothing in the world was more important to us.  The old place was small and cramped.  The new house has enough common space and bedrooms to accommodate our entire family – Emily and Colin and their two daughters Kenna and Lila; and Gillian and Steve and their baby daughter Eva.  And there’s plenty of room to grow.

There is simply no better time than when we’re all there together – playing tennis, playing with the kids, taking Kenna tubing, grilling, playing horseshoes, BlongoBall and board games, sharing a good Scotch with my sons-in-law and just plain wallowing in the joy of being in one another’s company.

I take that back. 

There is one slightly better time.  That’s when Marnie and I are in the Dark Green House on the Clear Blue Lake, just the two of us, the snow falling outside, seated in front of the fire.  That is heaven.

And that is my Latitude.