Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Illinois: Nature Steals the Scene

This Day in History: December 3, 1818

Illinois, The Prairie State, Land of Lincoln, The Corn State, The Garden of the West

Illinois State Motto: "State Sovereignty, National Union."

A Tidbit of Trivia...
The ice cream "sundae" was named in Evanston. The piety of the town resented the dissipating influences of the soda fountain on Sunday and the good town fathers, yielding to this churchly influence, passed an ordinance prohibiting the retailing of ice cream sodas on Sunday. Ingenious confectioners and drug store operators obeying the law, served ice cream with the syrup of your choice without the soda. Objections then were made to christening a dish after the Sabbath. So the spelling of "sunday" was changed. It became an established dish and an established word and finally the "sundae". 
Seven Wonders of Illinois: Baha'i House of Worship, Starved Rock, Rend Lake, Wrigley Field, Great Rivers Scenic Byway, Blackhawk State Historic Site, Allerton
How did Illinois get its name?
In 1679, the French explorer Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle named the Illinois River after the Indians living along its banks.  The word, Illinois, is the French spelling for the Native Americans called the "Illiniwek" and means "warriors" or "tribe of superior men." The Illiniwek people were really a conglomeration of various tribes. Due to French pronunciation and spelling Illiniwek evolved into Illinois. The state of Illinois was named after the Illinois River.
The most familiar nickname for Illinois is The Prairie State since most of the state was at one time mostly covered with prairie grasses. Second in line would be Land of Lincoln for Illinois is the state where Abraham Lincoln began his political career serving four terms in the Illinois General Assembly. Illinois was also where Lincoln lived when he became President of the United States in 1861. "Land of Lincoln" became the Official State Slogan of Illinois in 1955. Another nickname is The Corn State because the region of the country referred to as the Corn Belt is centered in Iowa and Illinois. The old nickname The Garden of the West came about because of the rolling prairies of Illinois and the miles of cultivated fields that made Illinois one of the leading producers of corn and later, soy beans, in the United States. [Click HERE for additional nicknames.]
“Watching that grain develop is fascinating to me because of all the things we are able to do with that corn plant,”  Len Corzine, a corn farmer from Assumption says, noting corn’s extensive use in livestock feed, food processing and ethanol.
Centrally located in the heart of America's corn belt, Illinois is ranked second in corn production among U.S. states, and Illinois corn is used to produce 40% of the ethanol consumed in the United States. Major landmarks like Columbus Park, the Sears tower, distinctive architectural designs of the Chicago skyscrapers, and the historic Lincoln Tomb, each have unique stories to tell.
After the American Revolution, Illinois became a territory of the United States. It achieved statehood on December 3, 1818 becoming the 21st state to join the union. Illinois is often noted as a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base and is a major transportation hub. Springfield is the state capital and the home of the National Historic Site of the home of President and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln.
Illinois is a state in the Midwestern United States.

Illinois State Bird: Northern Cardinal
The northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) was designated official state bird of Kentucky in 1926. One of America's favorite backyard birds, cardinals are distinctive in appearance and song - known for their "cheer cheer cheer," "whit-chew whit-chew" and "purty purty purty" whistles.
The cardinal sings nearly year-round, and the male aggressively defends his 4-acre territory (male cardinals have been seen attacking small red objects mistaken as other males).
 Illinois State Animal: White-tailed Deer
Illinois schoolchildren voted the white-tailed deer as the state animal in 1980. An animal of incredible beauty and power, white-tailed deer are able to run up to 40 miles per hour, jump 9 foot fences, and swim 13 miles per hour. 

 Illinois State Tree: White Oak
100 year old white oak tree (Quercus alba) in golden fall foliage;
photo by Bob Gutowski on 

Illinois designated the white oak (Quercus alba) as the official state tree in 1973.
Illinois State Amphibian: Eastern Tiger Salamander
The eastern tiger salamander was designated as official state amphibian in 2005 after winning the vote of the citizens of Illinois in 2004.
Illinois State Fruit: Goldrush Apple
Illinois designated the Goldrush apple as official state fruit in 2008. Gold Rush apples are a cross of golden delicious and an experimental variety of apple (Co-op 17) developed by the disease-resistant apple breeding program of the University of Illinois, Purdue University and Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Illinois State Flower: Purple Violet
Wood violet (close-up) photo by Maia C on Flickr
The incentive for adopting state flowers was inspired during the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Illinois was the first of 4 eastern states to designate the Purple Violet as official state flower nearly 100 years ago (in 1908 Illinois schoolchildren voted to select the violet as the state flower and the Native Oak as state tree).
 Illinois Snack Food: Popcorn
Illinois designated popcorn as the official state snack food in 2004. The Casey, Illinois, Popcorn Festival offers three full days of family fun, food, and entertainment over the Labor Day weekend.
For all State Symbols of Illinois click HERE!

Illinois State Song: "Illinois"

Illinois State Folk Dance: Square Dance
Illinois designated the square dance as the official state American Folk Dance in 1990. Twenty-two states have passed legislation to declare the square dance as the state folk dance and more than thirty bills have been introduced at the federal level proposing the square dance as the national (folk) dance of the United States.

Nature Steals the Scene


Miles of roads and trails
Resembling a spider's web
Weave paths of vivid color
'Til daylight begins to ebb

Caves in limestone cliffs
Man and stone come together
A natural den for pirates
Refuge from stormy weather


Host of flowering shrubs
Burst forth like a May queen
Leafy hardwoods deck the hillsides
With cooling canopies of green


Outlandish sandstone sculptures
Streaked with crimson and orange by day
Lie strewn, scattered about
As though a child has been at play


Lonely lakes and streams
Shady gorges, rocky bluffs
Leave works of humankind behind
Raw nature becomes enough

From meeting of great rivers
To vistas in between
Explore picturesque Illinois
Where nature steals the scene

©2014 Sharla Lee Shults

  Illinois Facts and Trivia

Next state by month: #1 Delaware - December 7, 1787