No one is one dimensional. And because of this we have public parks. I’m not talking about ball-parks. That’s a different way to express your non-one-dimensional nature. I’m talking about nature. Parks are places we go to immerse ourselves in nature. We might not go there for that primary reason; maybe we just want to run or walk to get exercise. But, the happy and fortunate side effect while we are getting our exercise is that we are immersing ourselves in nature.
National Geographic just published a fantastic article called “How Urban Parks Are Bringing Nature Close to Home”. But before I read that article, I was only last week walking the 2 mile loop at Webb Bridge Park thinking what a great park it is. I had not visited Webb Bridge Park in a few years, but little had changed. It remains my favorite park in Alpharetta.
To this day, I marvel at the genius of the design of the Webb Bridge Park. Who was so thoughtful as to keep the athletic fields mostly hidden by trees in the center of the park? This is a beautiful division of purpose and keeps noise at a minimum. Who skillfully placed bridges for pedestrians to walk over and through and punctuated the 4 corners of these bridges with now towering giant Cryptomeria? And the woven walking trails: who thought of these lines and hairpin turns? Who decided to cut a 1/3 mile spur down through the creek bottom; a creek that is partially fed by bubbling springs? And what great fortune that this park in recent years has opened up the bottomland that now serves as a passive play area.
I went to Webb Bridge the other day specifically to see if the Trilliums still exist. I was disappointed to see that they probably do not. And I would not budge from the walking path to explore deeper. If there are Trilliums hidden deep, then let them stay hidden. Trilliums do not co-exist with massive human foot traffic. But, I did see youthling Aesculus parviflora (horse-chestnut) coming up wild. I enjoyed a carpet of flowering Dichondra, or creeping Charlie, a weed. I marveled at the walnut grove and the hop hornbeam. I did spot a rare ephemeral wildflower, whose name and location I shall not reveal, in the hopes that it will not be disturbed.
As for the upkeep, park staff seem to have added some native Azaleas here and there. And the trails are neat. The place is quiet.
Of all the public spaces in Alpharetta, this place, the Webb Bridge Park, borders on sublime. And if ever a park deserved to be developed into more of a “garden”, if you will, this space qualifies. It would take a vision, and donations and commitment. It would take talent of the type that drew up the original plan for the Webb Bridge Park.
Parks such as Webb Bridge provide us places where we can exercise our bodies and rejuvenate our minds. They sharpen our curiosity as we walk through woods and by the creeks and through the bottomland and watch over time as nature goes through 4 distinct seasons. We realize, maybe for the first time, that we are walking safe and unharmed among wildlife; wildlife like cardinals and wrens and mockingbirds and the red-tailed hawk; squirrels and chipmunks; and that over there, down on that creek is undoubtedly a snake or two, doing their part in the big eco-system; not threatening us, rather contributing to the bigger picture.
Webb Bridge Park is a very special place.
(the author, Julie Hogg, was one of several who created the “Walk Through Georgia” Arboretum at Webb Bridge Park, her favorite of all the arboretums in Alpharetta).