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Soaking up rays at Dogwood Festival - Bob Paslay

Even though there are a million things to do in metro Atlanta, I often on weekends hobbit myself away and wallow in a good book or refight the Civil War or WWII on the History Channel.

But this past weekend, friends of mine urged that I join them at the Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park.

Since I live on 14th Street in midtown and since I promised to lose a zillion and one pounds by summer, I unhobbited myself and walked over to the park.

What a spectacular time I had. It was so much fun that I walked back over the next day and soaked in Sunday's festivities also.

What is it about sunlight that brings us out? The days leading up to the festival had been rainy and chilly and suddenly as if the weatherman had been slipped a couple of $20 bills, the sun came out and warmth enveloped everyone.

I am told 150,000 were out on Saturday. That is three times the population of my hometown and 150 times the number I went to high school with, so I can't imagine that large a number. But they were out in force and let me say those who put on the festival do a wonderful job of making sure things run smoothly. Amtrak should be so lucky.

Music was dispersed about the festival. Food was sold every so often and art exploded everywhere, much too rich for my wallet, but nevertheless fun to stop and stare at.

It seemed like just about every other person had a dog along. I don't know much about dogs. I never had one. But it seems to me that little tiny people have big old dogs and big old people have little tiny dogs.

With no dog as a kid, I had in order of growing up a gold fish (which we either fed too much or not enough so that his tail fins waved good-bye as he swirled down the porcelain opening and disappeared). A rabbit, which a neighbor was petting once and let out of the cage by mistake and he was hit by a car (My parents told me he ran away to help the Easter Bunny, parents not liking to see yunguns cry needlessly). And a pet chicken. It was one of those Easter giveaways that somehow survived to be a full-grown chicken that would climb onto the window sill in summer, plop in an easy chair in the livingroom and lay its egg each day. Remember I lived in downtown of a medium-sized city. Eventually, we took it to my country uncle's farm and I fear but never knew for sure she ended up on the Sunday table.

There was a lot of dog staring at other dogs and some sniffing, but no fights that I saw. One whole section of Piedmont Park was set aside for Frisbee catching dogs to strut their stuff. The announcer even allowed as how people should clap a lot because "the more you clap, the higher she jumps. Dogs thrive on affection." So, who doesn't? Just as much fun as sitting on the sideline watching a lanky football player, arms outstretched, catch the perfect pass, so is watching a dog catch a Frisbee in his mouth. Keeping your eye on the target, letting it gently come down within reach and then snaring it seems to be the right approach for both.

I strolled over to a little tree-lined section of the park where the poets and songwriters were performing to a small crowd. When I got there a threesome calling themselves Dahlonega were seated and ready to play.

One was a tall black headed college student, another his red-headed roommate and the third a blonde woman who they said heard them playing in the dorm and walked over and started playing with them.

After a few weeks of playing together, she announced that she had a gig for them, the Dogwood Festival. And with plenty of procrastinating and then only days before the festival, they decided it was time to expand the one song they had into enough to play at the festival. This was the story they told as they began playing. I didn't count the songs, but they had done a fine job of last-minute planning. Melodic sounds washed over us. And then when they had done all the songs they had planned, they simply said, that's all we know. There aren't any more. The other college student-friends who came to listen yelled for an encore, but the redheaded guitar player merely shrugged his shoulders and mouthed again, "that's all we have."

I tell this story because it makes me remember the college days, when two guys could be playing guitars and make a new friend and suddenly have a band. It makes me remember and envy this easy-going "don't sweat it, it will all work out" attitude. And it always does work out. We all could learn a lesson from this. And this devil may care attitude fit in with the festival as festival-goers meandered through culture, no one in a hurry, everyone having a good time.

Other events are scheduled during the spring and summer around the area and I had such a good time I may wander out some more. And I urge you to do the same.

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 257 or via e-mail at bpaslay@news-daily.com.