2008 was the first Christmas I spent with Nita. We had some time off, so we took a day for ourselves. I wanted to photograph and write about the Krohn Conservatory’s annual Christmas display for the late, lamented My Town Monday multi-blog effort. Since the Conservatory is in Eden Park, near the city’s Mt. Adams neighborhood, we decided to make it a date day.
The Conservatory was fun. I’d only been there once in the entire time I’d lived in Cincinnati (17 years at that point). This was new. The previous weekend, we took AJ to Duke Energy (in the old CG&E Building downtown) to see the annual model train display. He practically yanked the camera out of my hands to take a few shots. This would have been a good trip for him as well, but he was in school.
The weather was something I could never get used to in this city. Growing up on the fringes of Cleveland, I was used to snow starting right after Halloween and continuing snowfall or deep freeze until the thaw hit in late March. Not so Cincinnati. Nita and I left our jackets in the car as it was 68 degrees outside.
We took a self-guided tour of the Conservatory, Nita posing for a few pictures for the blog. Then we went to see the sheep in the live nativity scene. Sheep on television and in movies are cute, white, fluffy things you just want to hug. Sheep in real life?
Yeah… Not that much different from pigs, except pigs have fine hair that doesn’t cake with mud and… well… you know. So seeing the sheep made me appreciate what a let-down being born in a manger must have been. Now take into account that the stables were often cleaner than the inns back then. (There’s a motel about 10 miles outside of Savannah, Georgia, I stayed in once that rivaled this stable. I still shudder thinking about it.) But we were there to take pictures and see the sights, so we got over the dirty sheep.
Off we went to Mt. Adams. For those of you unfamiliar with our fair city, Mt. Adams is a neighborhood that sits on a high hill overlooking downtown. Geographically and culturally, Mt. Adams is more like San Francisco than the rest of Cincinnati. They even considered it for an episode of The Real World some years back. At the very top of the hill is a monastery, which looms over a restaurant district. That was our lunch destination. We ate at a place called the Mt. Adams Bar & Grill. I pointed out that the building on the corner below us was where Clear Channel used to run several radio stations that now operate in Nita’s building where she works. I have to say the Kenwood location is probably easier to get to, but I’d miss working in this charming neighborhood if I had to leave it for a soulless office tower with a view of an unfinished shopping center.
We took a walk along St. Gregory and stopped in at the coffee place I’d often detour to some mornings. Customers were sitting outside, only a few days before Christmas.
In typical Cincinnati fashion, I had to drive out to the condo I was renting out to salt the back deck for our new tenants the very next day. The temperature dropped forty degrees overnight.
We haven’t had a date like that in a long time. It’s hard to get the time off lately, and it can get expensive. But it was our first Christmas date. You only get one of those.