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User Latitudes

User Latitudes Feature

The User Latitudes Feature will showcase Latitudes from YOU the participants of the What's Your Latitude? Movement.  Please see the guidelines for submission on the Submit page and let the world hear about your Latitude!

Saturday
Apr022011

Open Road, WI

My name is Mike and I am one of Rog’s cousins.  I personally have 3 Latitudes.

My first Latitude is The Swing “up north.”  Growing up, we used to visit a place “up north” that had a swing that was right on the lake that faced north.  After grilling out and eating dinner I/we (whomever family members would join in) would walk down to the lake and we’d congregate around the swing.  I’d look out at the lake and I would think about the days passed and the future to come.  At that time of night, the lake was always calm and there was a distinct sense of serenity.  I often think about “up north” and the swing and how special of a place that was/is and how much it still affects me to this day.

My second Latitude is “the cabin.”  We have been blessed to own a year ‘round retreat in the Wisconsin Dells area.  It overlooks a little lake, which faces west.  In the evening, as the sun is setting and I stand on the deck and look out on the lake I witness nature’s beauty at its finest.  During those moments I thank God for what He has given me and I realize how truly blessed I am with my wife, family, and career.  Any stressors that I may have in my life (because we all have stressors in our lives) seem to disappear during those magical moments and I find myself at peace within myself.

My third Latitude is on the Harley.  I love to ride…and ride free.  There is something very unique to riding a Harley on the roads throughout America.  When I’m on the bike (especially with my wonderful wife on the back with her arms wrapped around me) the world seems to stop spinning and living life becomes raw and pure.  The essence of freedom comes to life, the way God intended for us to live and to love life.

The beautiful thing about being on the Harley is that it can take me to any latitude on Earth be it “up north”, back to The Swing, or up to The Cabin.  On the bike, I honestly find peace within myself and I am grateful for the life that I have. 

Sunday
Feb272011

Caledonia Farm, IL

Fifty years ago I perched on a 12 foot, freshly cut hay wagon in the dusty yard at my uncle’s Caledonia farm with my three cousins and my brother.   I didn’t want to be up there, since I never much liked smiling when told to do so, but the moment is still etched in my mind, and I return to that summer day and those memories on the farm often.

Earlier that afternoon, I had baled the hay with Granddaddy and then parked the wagon in the yard where Mom and Dad, Aunt Ada, and Uncle Jack wanted that picture of us kids which has since turned into my personal Latitude. Sadly, it would turn out that that would be the last picture I had with my cousin Bruce who was torn from our lives in the Belvidere tornado of 1967.

Lucky for me, most of my summers were spent on this farm in Caledonia just east of Rockford, Illinois. 

This magical place was the antithesis of my childhood home of Wilmette, Illinois.  The suburban lifestyle left behind gave me a tractor to drive and the trust of my Granddaddy who really wasn’t my blood grandfather but a strong Swedish farmer who showed me the magic of being a man. 

He was a teacher who taught me to listen to someone of authority and know the goodness from the listening and the learning.  As we were grinding corn, I learned about the power take off of a belt that sent the corn to be ground, and all I could think about was that I needed to remain sitting on this mighty, vibrating tractor to feel its power and the magical undulations of its motor. 

We were combining in the field as he came up to the wagon. I was steering the product to the left and right of the wagon bed standing thigh high in fresh cut oats, grasshoppers galore jumping all over me. 

At days end there were two of us, one at the combine and one with the wagon.  He surprised me by telling me to drive the wagon of oats to the farm yard, my first time being the driver of a Alice Chalmers, yellow, cranking tractor on my own and all alone.

“Drive behind me,” he said. “Stay right behind me,” he repeated over his shoulder as he drove the combine out of the field and up the hill to the gravel road.  Sticking with those “Follow me” directions to the tee, suddenly he stopped on the hill and I, right behind him, stalled and lost power.  Rolling back, I hit the fence post and since I was stalled, I knew I need to quickly jump off of the tractor to crank it back to life before he saw the mishap because a mistake at this point I thought would mean I might never drive again.

That late afternoon my aunt was gazing out the kitchen window as she saw me coming up out of the field, amazed that Georgy was driving the tractor, alone.  She made me feel special by telling me about her vision of my accomplishment, and my reward the next morning was goldenrod toast for breakfast.

This magical place of simplicity and down to earth love is a Latitude that I have recently visited with my wife, and the joy I felt in sharing it with her made the memories of the hay wagon picture come to life once again. 

This picture of my Latitude rests on my desk at work and is a daily reminder of the simplicity of life’s joys and the treasures of my childhood.

(check out George, upper left in the cowboy hat)

Sunday
Feb272011

Brantingham Golf Club, NY

I am very pleased, and proud to share this Latitude with everyone. I am Roger’s uncle by marriage, I am also soooo proud of him and my niece Erica for the manner in which they handled this entire cancer challenge.

I was happy and proud, again, to wear the purple bracelet in support of Roger while he struggled with the monthly rigors of cancer treatment.  This bracelet was a major reason my Latitude worked for me.

My Latitude is the 18thhole of my golf course, Brantingham Golf Club, in Brantingham, NY.  I should say that it can be any hole but for me it is the 18th. 

As I stand there on the tee I think about Roger and what he would give to be with me, but also I think of the absolute solitude it gives me.  The peace and comfort to be there and to be cancer free for sure.

When things are tough during a round I look at the bracelet and think about you Roger and suddenly everything is not nearly as dire as the 5 foot putt for par, or the need to get up and down on 18 to shoot even par. 

I won the club championship this past year using the my Latitude and thinking of Roger, Erica, and Liam.  The peace I fell is incredible, thank you Rog for allowing me this moment to share my Latitude! 

I am thankful you are Ok, and I hope everyone will take your lead and latitudinize!!!