Central Illinois has come to life this spring.

This area has a beauty all its own: vast, sprawling land; rich, dark soil; green trees and grass; and, oh, that big, big sky. Take a drive into the country, and miles and miles of landscape spread out before us. It begs us to stop and ponder it. 

Everywhere, plants start to burst from the rich soil — some of the most fertile land in the world — trees bud, and birds chirp incessantly to welcome spring and the long summer to follow. Central Illinois seems to shed winter like an old coat, ready for the warmth and life of the season. 

The subject of weather is always a topic of conversation anywhere, too. No place loves its weather talk more than right here in Central Illinois. It’s a true reality show. It changes all the time! The jet stream flows right through our part of the state and coupled with our flat terrain — it never seems to stop. So, it makes sense that we Central Illinoisans seem to come alive when the topic of weather comes up in conversation. There’s a saying that if we don’t like the weather, we only need to wait a few minutes and it will change. If small talk gets too boring, get the weather topic going and see how the conversation seems to spark new life. Faces light up and words get animated. Go on. Try it. 

When spring hits, Central Illinois gets busy cleaning up their landscape, too. Everyone is digging in the dirt, pruning old plants and planting new ones. We’re enamored watching the flowers bloom, observing the trees bud and gawking at how the grass greened up over night. Breathing in the spring air feels restorative. It’s a good time to get things done in the yard and garden, that’s for sure.

Avid gardener Emily Kroner said it’s good to get out and enjoy spring. It’s healthy.

“The power of flowers and plants,” she said. “They’re healing.”

 Look around and see area parks come alive with people strolling, jogging, playing and enjoying all that there is to offer in and around Central Illinois. Whether we want to stay in town and enjoy the beautiful parks that are right around the corner like Meadowbrook Park at Race Street and Windsor Road in Urbana and the neighborhood gathering place that is Clark Park in Champaign, or travel a little bit to Lake of the Woods in Mahomet, Homer Lake or maybe Allerton in rural Monticello, there is never a shortage of great places to go and play outside. 

Kroner said that local parks are a gift to the community.

“They are all really wonderful. I really enjoy the parks in Champaign, and how they turn these tiny areas into joyful little spots,” she said. “I appreciate that.”

So, load the kids in the car and take a trip to the park. It will put color in everyone’s cheeks and make for some happy memories, too. 

Feeling a little hungry? Our downtown areas wake up with activity, too. The dining alfresco experience in old town Champaign and downtown Urbana is nothing short of a celebration in and of itself. Likewise, small town Central Illinois has wonderful drive-in restaurants, like Dewey’s Drive-In in Farmer City, or ice cream shops like The Sidney Dairy Barn to enjoy. The local farmers’ markets get rolling again and we enjoy fresh and healthy foodstuffs grown right here. Plus the camaraderie of neighbors and friends at The Market on the Square in Urbana and the Champaign Farmers’ Market on Neil and Main streets in downtown Champaign make for some fun times, too. Don’t want to drive into C-U? That’s OK, it seems that every town, big or small, has a farmers’ market to enjoy. 

Dust off those winter blues, get out and enjoy our Central Illinois home, and while you’re at it, let us know what interesting discoveries you’ve made this season here At Home in Central Illinois.