Land of Enchantment
I’d be remiss not to discuss some of the fun activities and beautiful venues of Douglasville. There’s plenty to explore if you just know where to look, and the place is full of so much to discover, from a rich history and artistic culture, to the rustic and natural environments that seems to surround and blanket the community in warmth and beauty. I make it sound a bit romantic don’t I? Can you blame me for having a little bias? I love my home. Why don’t I show you a few of my favorite spots and let you see for yourself? I gotta keep it to three segments for now though, so be sure to check out the galleries and the map back at the Sense of Place main page, and come back occasionally to check for updates. With that out of the way, let’s begin our adventure.
Rustic and Historical Downtown
I simply can’t talk about the venues of this town without bringing up Downtown Douglasville. It’s a rich environment full of history, art, and life, especially during the summer. And yet, it’s not without it’s charm in the winter either. There’s something relaxing about strolling through O’Neal Plaza to take in the fresh air during a calm day. There are so many things to see and do here, from the small things like plaques giving windows into local history and little art pieces scattered through out the town, to some pretty big things like the Douglasville Art and History Museum. Then there’s all the things in between, from the mom and pop shops, gift stores, cafés and diners, to the O’Neal Plaza Stage where live music is played in the summers, or the Downtown Gaming Area where fun community events often take place. It’s not so much a big city vibe here. It’s something different, something more tight knit, vibrant, lively, yet still preserving the spirit of an older time, from more than a century ago.
I’ve always been something of an old soul. My family, friends, and I often joke how I’m the soul of an old man in a young man’s body. It’s something I’ve come to embrace. Even as a kid, I always stopped to take moments to appreciate things like this, simple meaning in the very atmosphere of the environment. It makes traveling much more interesting, and yet keeps me grounded right here, in this familiar, calm, rustic environment where I just feel at peace. It’s difficult to explain, spiritual in a sense, soothing, enlightening, reinvigorating, and inspiring. That’s a common theme throughout the places we’ll explore next, but each has little nuances that set them apart.
The Cultural Arts
Childhood memory has a big role in my sense of place in Douglasville, and much of it is rooted deep in Douglasville’s history of cultural arts, mostly as a young learner mind you. That little house on the right seems rather quaint doesn’t it? That’s the Cultural Arts Council of Douglasville. Cozy and homey right? I thought so too when I started going there as a tiny lad, learning from the kind folks working there in the building next door some of my earliest artistic skills. The beginnings of my skills in painting, drawing, and writing were in no small part a direct result of my visits to this place.
My mother would drive me here regularly in those days, leaving me with the teachers to take part in things like finger painting. It seems so small and silly in a way, and yet I can’t discount it. I had a lot of fun here. If you’ve already read my People of Douglasville section, you’re probably already aware of one of the more recent reminders I had of this place. If not, you’ll find out when you go look there.
They’re such distant memories, what I can recall of this place, but I can still look back on them with fondness as I remember the gleeful giggling of myself and my friends at the time, our smiling teachers encouraging us to be creative and spontaneous. At the time, most of the things we came up with were beyond silly, but it was a fun and colorful time.
This is still a place where you can go to learn about some of Douglasville’s cultural history and significance. I still can’t help the feelings of nostalgia whenever I so much as look at it. As you’ll quickly find out, nostalgia and memory play a big part in my reasons for being so deeply tied to this town.
There are a couple parks I want to talk about, so I’ll consolidate them right here. The two big names I want to talk about are Clinton Nature Preserve, and Deer Lick Park, two beautiful spots rooted deep in childhood memory.
We’ll talk about Deer Lick Park first. This park is in close proximity to the home of my grandparents. For context, I should start this story in their backyard. There is this gigantic tree that is the centerpiece of the space. It felt like I was in a nature rich village whenever I was back there, and it was often a starting point for many an adventure for me and my siblings. It was our home base…. our “round table” lay beneath. Many of those adventures took my family and I to Deer Lick Park. I have many fond memories there, from feeding the ducks at the lake to playing on the hills and playground, and even having mock sword fights with my little brother using sticks. The stories we came up with then, wild stuff the likes of which you’d only find in the mind of a child…. It was our land, and we were the knights at the round table with our grandparents as the wise elders and soothsayers.
Fast forward just a few years, middle school, Clinton Nature Preserve becomes a centerpiece in childhood memory as my school hosts foot races in the trails of the preserve. The playground comes about as the result of numerous donations and dedications, including a donation from my father’s animal hospital, and a dedication to a sadly now distant cousin whose difficult birth ended with a miracle. The latter is a story for another time… perhaps when I’m ready. However, I’m happy to talk about the race. I didn’t even come in the top three. It was mostly just a run for exercise and awareness building, and what does my ADHD butt do halfway to the finish? I stop to rescue baby frogs from being squished by a slow moving ATV! I was a silly kid, but I’ve been told my heart was in the right place. Wound up getting a ride back on the ATV. Good times right?
These parks didn’t just get their hooks in me with their natural air, though that was a huge part. The memories I’ve made at these places, some vivid, some faded, all will last a lifetime. In some way, these places have tied me all the closer to my hometown of Douglasville. It’s my hope that one day, when I have children, they’ll be able to make fond memories at these parks too, and expand their realms of fantasy and make-believe to these magical places.
A Final Word
This probably isn’t what you expected when the title of this section referred to the parks and recreation of Douglasville. However, this is ultimately an interactive story about my sense of place in this town, and each of the locations and people I talk about play some kind of role in that. I don’t just want to talk about the places, I want to talk about the stories I have here. I’ve added links for you to check out their websites if you so wish, but the ultimate takeaway here is this:
Nostalgia and memory are a big part of the human condition. They’re a double-edged sword that can heal and uplift, and harm and hinder. Memories of the bad and the good exist as part of every-day life. Places like these are often reminders of both. Hard lessons and fun times, bonding versus loss in the family, scary moments and heroic triumphs (at least in my childish mind at the time), they’re always going to be there. It’s these places where I gained memories of all kinds, good and bad, and learned some valuable lessons about how to take one with the other, and appreciate the good things, big and small. On top of that, I gained some great stories to tell friends through it all. Those lessons, that nostalgia, the spiritual connections that come with them, it all comes together in this complex web, my web that I weave by living life to the fullest every day. At its center are my friends, my family, my faith, and my home.
Douglasville is that home.
Be sure to check out my focused little gallery below before you move on, and see which of my photos are part of this particular story. When you’re ready…
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