U is for Urbana, IL, where Stratoz and I lived from 1993-1995 while I went to Library School. There were two discoveries living in Urbana: Meadowbrook Park Prairie Restoration, and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.
Though I had grown up in Alberta, a prairie province, I was from the city, and thought of prairie as a flat space to plant wheat, or in the case of Illinois, corn and soybeans.
Stratoz gravitates to natural places, and walked the Urbana Prairie restoration in Meadowbrook Park many times. Sometimes I went along, and learned about the essence of prairie, the plants, birds and animals that make up this ecosystem. Many volunteers have worked on this restoration and the red-winged blackbirds must be pleased.
The other discovery was the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, a dramatic brick structure designed by Max Abramovitz in 1969 for the University of Illinois. The window of our student apartment bedroom looked out on the Krannert, and made for a majestic neighbor. Shortly after we moved in, the Krannert was hit by lightning in one of the many storms that created tornado warnings, and a patch of bricks fell to the ground.
I bought student tickets to attend plays, concerts and dance at the Krannert, and Stratoz and I would walk across the street and be enveloped by the arts, and creative expression.