We love the changing of the seasons here in central Illinois. There’s nothing like that first day of springtime…the first day when it’s warm enough to shed your coat and soak up the sunshine. After the cold of winter, there’s something therapeutic about putting your coats away for the season to watch the trees bud and the first sprouts of daffodils pop up. I’ll admit it—I’m one of the first to be struck by spring fever.

Springtime triggers breezy thoughts of romance and weddings. This spring we followed one couple to the Dominican Republic for a firsthand look at a unique destination wedding. Sure, Peoria is home, but planning a multicultural wedding for the pair who loves to travel seemed to be the perfect choice. Of course, who can speak of weddings and not speak of diamonds? We asked a local gemstone expert, Curt Stubbs at Potter & Anderson, about the latest trends in the industry and learned how those pink and yellow diamonds became popular.

Anxious to get outside? Take a walk around your yard, breathe in the fresh air and mull over the tips we offer in this issue on planning a spring or summer garden. You won’t forget the satisfaction and elation you feel as you step back to inspect your hard work, even as your arms and legs are covered in dirt and your limbs and back are aching. Planting and mulching relaxes the mind, exercises the body and casts you in a supporting role in the seasonal renewal of spring. Garden therapy is good for the soul.

Are you in the market for a new vehicle? There’s no better time to scratch that itch than the springtime, with a whole summer of open roads ahead of you. This time around, we toured local car dealerships and took a few models out for a spin. Whether you’re in the mood for a luxury sports car or a sport utility vehicle, these will take you wherever you want to go in style.

Finally, have you ever wondered what goes on in town at three in the morning? We teamed up with Dr. Elsburgh Clarke, Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Methodist Medical Center by day and photojournalist in his off-hours, for 24 Hours in Peoria, a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life in our town. The first part of a three-part series appears in this issue, featuring the hours between midnight and 8am. If you don’t already, you’ll want to subscribe to the magazine so you won’t miss the rest of the story!

Go ahead—break out the patio furniture, pour yourself a cool drink of lemonade, grab your copy of art & society and have your spring fling! You deserve it! a&s