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No longer bleary-eyed wayfarers observing from afar, but instead participants with roots slowly entrenching into the clay earth of our adopted city, we do our best to attend each year wandering through the craft stalls, stopping to listen to local musicians, and finding the best shade tree in the heart of the park to sit under to do what we love best: people watch- creating stories for the terse arguing couple in matching yellow shirts power-walking past, or the octogenarian following eight leashed dogs along the outskirts of the park. And last year- walking hand-in-hand under a starlit sky watching vendors unwind from the day, as a movie played on a large screen in the distance and my son jabbed me with his foot from within, wondering what the coming year between Dogwood festivals would bring.
Today we went to the Dogwood Festival. We maneuvered our unwieldy stroller through the crowded craft stalls. Rushed past the local musicians hoping they didn't wake our sleeping baby- and sat down under a distant shade-tree to nurse and watch him stare at the nine-foot ferris wheel in the distance, trying with his wobbly legs, to make his way towards the merry-go-round and face-painting just beyond the hill; a hint at the new things the next Dogwood Festival will bring.
Today was my eighth Dogwood Festival. In the span of these eight years I lived lives as a city-dweller, a regrettable suburbanite, a teacher, a lawyer, and now a stay-at-home mother pursuing my creativity, a second manuscript in the hands of my agent, and a hope and a prayer that the space between this festival and the next will yield good things. The Dogwood Festival holds a special place in my heart for it is a tangible marker of the time I have spent in this city- the beautiful changes that have come with- and all, I hope, that is yet to come.