I just received my advanced copies of the March-April issue of Midwest Traveler. The cover story is my Illinois bicentennial article. I once lived in Illinois and loved it. We lived in the Chicago suburbs, and for a girl from Texas, the varied cultures and experiences that made up Illinois were fascinating.
Since it has been awhile since I lived in Illinois, I returned last autumn for a research trip. I thought I knew the Loop and lake area. I have memories of visiting Springfield. But I saw everything with new eyes while I was there. I had a blast even though it rained during much of my visit.
Even though it felt new, I took an unexpected trip back in time. What was the catalyst? Oddly enough, it wasn’t the “L” rattling by, the Sears Tower with a new name, or even my favorite Field Museum sitting on Lake Michigan’s shores. It was a giant orange sculpture standing 53 feet in the air. Named the Flamingo, the sculpture by Alexander Calder was an early piece of public art in the city.
Was it a special favorite of mine when I lived in Chicago? Not that I recall. But just like smells can bring memories of other times, the site of this steel sculpture recalled my time in Illinois and I felt immense joy.
If you have the opportunity to visit Illinois during 2018, do. And if you already live there, it’s time to take a vacation in your backyard. Lots of people have worked very hard to make this year-long celebration a blast. You can find out more about it at Illinois200.