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Posts Tagged ‘parks’

and it seems the joke is on us. we’ve been in town since may 15, and it’s taken us this long to bother checking out the dog park in mt. airy forest. but i knew this morning when i yelled at our two pooches for the minor infraction of looking at me longingly (please! take us outside! please! outside!) that i had to do something, so we headed out for a rowdy romp that would hopefully calm all of us down.

when we first came to town we stayed with family in mt. washington, where it was easy enough to skedaddle down sutton rd to kellog ave, zip past coney island and the race track and the marina, and take the dogs out to play in kellogg dog field. there is much to like about kellogg, even in addition to the general benefits of in-city dog parks (other dogs to help remind your dog the importance of his social skills, and you of yours; extended leash-free time for fetching, sniffing and rolling in smelly things; and somewhere legal and not rude to your neighbors where you can drop the dogs’ you-know-what). kellogg’s dog field is actually quite pretty — there are lots of trees and plenty of grass (green space is not to be taken for granted where dogs roam by the dozens per day), benches for tired humans, and water pumps for the all-important canine rehydration.

but my favorite thing about kellogg — well, i have two favorite things about kellogg. one is that in order to get to the dog field you have to cross the non-dog fields, which are often full of mid-sizers “playing” soccer. (i’ve seen some killer handstands from strikers who don’t bother to get involved with the team’s defensive moves.) but my really, really favorite thing about the dog field is this relic of a concrete structure that looms to your right when you enter the fenced-in dog area. it’s basically nothing more than a giant concrete box with a few chain-link-protected entry ways. but through those nets of metal beckons a weird and wonderful deep green forest, whose uppermost limbs burst through the open space where the concrete ceiling might be and weedy tendrils creep and simper through dilapidated concrete cracks. the smell is heavenly: part rich loamy compost, part sunshine peeking through leaves, part temptation. were i more adventuresome — i like to think of it as less responsible, but really, who am i kidding? — i’d shimmy up the side and scoot on in. but no. i stand outside and content myself with imagining the possibilities.

but now that we’re in a new ‘hood, kellogg is not all that close. and since northside was almost where we landed when we got here, we’ve been meaning to head out through it to mt. airy. today was finally the day.

the fenced-in dog park is situated on a hill along the southwest leg of the forest, which is great for those obsessive-compulsive fetchers who need the energy-zap of an hour spent running up and down a steep slope. the central area of the park is dusty and trampled, but dotted with picnic tables where folks sit and read while their dogs play, and ringed by a grassy, treed perimeter that mitigates the dustbowl effect. the park also boasts a couple of water-pumps and a (sadly closed for the season) restroom for human use. there is also a separate play area for small dogs, or for those wallflowers who aren’t feeling up to the 24-hour-party going on across the way.

while mt. airy’s dog park is only about half the size of kellogg’s (a little over 2 acres vs. a little over 5), it’s by far the more happenin’ spot. at kellogg on a busy day — even on a weekend — we might encounter half a dozen dogs, several of whom might belong to the same person. today when we pulled into mt. airy’s parking lot we were the 21st car. that’s a whole lotta dog.

we met lester, whose favorite game was to tackle our toddler. (she’s used to it, and suffered only one scratch and one mouthful of dirt.) we met “baby” or “maybe” — i couldn’t tell which it was, and i wasn’t sure i liked either — who was demonstrating her keen ability not to find the sticks being thrown for her. one dog was muzzled (perhaps because she likes to chase small animals, perhaps because she’s viciously aggressive, but either way, thanks to her person for sparing us all); another dog — a very small dog, seemingly some kind of rat terrier mix — was being carried around by the tennis ball he refused to release from his clenched jaws. we saw no terrible behavior (from humans or dogs), hopefully engaged in none ourselves, and will be very pleased to return to mt. airy’s dog park on a more regular basis.

perhaps in our spare time we’ll look into the details of getting a dog park up and running. it sure would be nice to have one closer to home.

*today’s title courtesy of ritt deitz, on hillbilly

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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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Every third weekend in October, festival-loving Ohioans flock to Bainbridge, OH, for the Fall Festival of Leaves. This year we joined them. foliage.jpg

Our afternoon started on the midway, where before long our heads felt all pink-edged and fuzzy with the heady aroma of saturated fats. Intrepid toddlers and tumblers (not ours, mind you) made their way through the Hillbilly Village funhouse while grown-ups on their way to the vintage auto show were entertained by the Celtic-Queen players. More astute spectators were taken with the festival’s very own changeable tin man. Hungry festival-goers could enjoy the usual midway fare–blooming onions, turkey drumsticks, even sugar-free lemonade (really, why bother?)–but we opted for Grumpy’s BBQ, a rich pulled pork sandwich slathered in a tomato-based sauce. Yum.

Afterwards we followed most of a scenic loop through Pike Lake. Our out-of-date directions led us pretty far astray, but not before we’d had our fill of early fall’s foliage. Situated in camping-friendly Pike Lake State Park, Pike Lake provides paddleboats, rowboats and canoes for the paddling-inclined, shaded picnic grounds with a water view, and a general store. The surrounding hills shone faded green and brilliant gold with flashes of crimson (unlike our neighborhood in Cincinnati, where trees are mostly brown with summer’s drought). Certainly fall is on its way.

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