returning to work after a 6-week leave has left me feeling a little listless, missing the freedom to roam around our new city and its surrounds. so today i took a break from it all and wandered over to hauck botanic gardens, more casually — and charmingly, now that it’s no longer true — called “sooty acres.” i have only been at my job for five months, but i can’t believe it took me this long to find this fab little spot, which promises to be my new favorite lunching pad.
according to sarah knott, “the land is named after Cornelius J. Hauck, former Cincinnati Park Board president, who nurtured the fauna and lived on the acres. When he died in 1957, Hauck donated the park to the Cincinnati Park Board with a lifetime estate provision. His wife lived there until 1985, and now their house services as Cincinnati Horticultural Society headquarters.” wandering around the gardens i tried not to ogle the house, but i couldn’t help but imagine how much more perfect life would be if i went to work every day in a such a house in such a garden.
the park sits snugly in the northeast corner of the intersection at reading and taft, across the way from the vernon manor and adjacent to the civic garden center. it’s not an especially attractive part of town, especially if you have to walk past the used-tire shop next to the amoco and across from the white castle. but it’s worth it. within the wrought-iron gates the sounds of I-71 drift away, taking with them the smell of diesel and the ready-to-erupt road rage of commuters. the park itself is a sweet winding mass of stony paths, grassy patches, shade trees and sitting-spots. even in late fall it boasts summer blooms (phlox! phlox on october 30!) and butterflies. and while fall textures and colors have a pleasure all their own, i’ll confess i’m looking forward to seeing the garden in springtime blush and full-blooming in 2008.
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My earliest idea of a beautiful park was Golden Gate Park, where my family spent frequent Saturdays playing frisbee and making daisy chains out of clover and dandelions. (I was terrible at both.) Later I came to love the mountainous parks with creeks and lakes that surround the Salt Lake City valley, then the rolling parks with ocean water, inlets, or lakes sprinkled across Seattle, and eventually the many city parks with ped-friendly paths around lakes that dot the Twin Cities. So it has seemed only right that we explore Cincinnati parks to discover their own particular brand of geography-cool.
A quick drive from our neighborhood — and frankly, a manageable walk if only I were less lazy — Ault Park sits in tony
Hyde Park, Mt. Lookout, entered easily at the east end of Observatory Avenue, or a little further south from Principio Ave. Like many of Cincy’s parks this one sits atop a hill, which makes for some spectacular look-out points. Ault Park also has walking trails (and trail guides to learn about the fauna you’re not trampling), a kids’ playground with picnic areas, lots of spots for lounging, reading, and summer-sunbathing, and an elegant pavilion complete with fountain and gardens. Our most recent trip to the park was to visit the gardens and check out the fall color.
It was a cool enough day that few folks were out, so we had the gardens mostly to ourselves. We meandered through the adopt-a-plot gardens, where I scribbled notes for ideas for our humble back yard next year while Mairin toddled around making happy-happy sounds at birds and bugs and dirt. We paused at the rock garden and the children’s peek-a-boo garden, where the textures have special toddler-appeal, and at various colorful and texture-rich spots along the path. We wandered across the central grassy plot where, I am told, the most fabulous fourth-of-July party is held every year (it’s on our calendar for 2008) and made our way to Cascade Fountain, where on past visits we’ve witnessed everything from elegant wedding photos to cheesy high-school-senior-type shots. Today the fountain was isolated, and in the park’s quiet the roar of the water was too much for even an intrepid, bug-and-dirt-loving 14-month-old.
But I got more of my fall-color-fix. (More of those fix-pix here.)
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