I just got back from the most delightful holiday!
Even though I grew up in the heart of Dixie, I had actually never heard of this sweet little southern town until a handful of people recommended it to me recently. It was one of those places that I mentally filed away and there it sat, taking up residence in the back of my mind.
Until one day last month, that is.
I saw a low cost carrier offering a dirt cheap fare to this very town and I decided to take the plunge. On an impulse, I booked it and began prepping for a mini-getaway - just me, myself, and I.
I enjoyed a stay in a quaint little B & B just off Main Street. For almost a week I enjoyed an early morning run, often crossing paths with the local rector as he was out doing the same. After my run, I daily stopped in at the local bakery (per the rector's recommendation) for a piece of pastry before heading back to my room for a soak & a good book.
My gracious hosts, noticing that I traveled with a tiny library in tow, introduced me to a delightful local named Cynthia on my first night in town. Cynthia, you see, spends her mornings at the hospital reading to the patients and invited me to join her the next morning after my run. I gratefully accepted the invitation, and spent the rest of my weekday mornings reading to patients as eager to hear every word as I was to read them.
After the hospital, I stopped for lunch at the Main Street Grill and then spent the afternoons exploring this delightful tiny little town.
On the first day I lost all sense of time in the Oxford Antique Shop. Enamored with the vast amount of antiques available in such a tiny town's storefront, I smiled fondly recalling the memory of Mrs. Kim of Stars Hollow (Gilmore Girls reference). The treasures in this trove made me dearly wish I could have driven so that I could take a few mementos home with me.
Don't even get me started on the Happy Endings Bookstore - a place at which I very quickly became a regular. By the end of my first visit I had expanded my little library by four thanks to the 20% off sale on all titles beginning with the letter "H." By the end of my second visit I had scored a dinner invite by the owners. After choosing a nice bottle of sipping Sherry for my hosts at The Local grocers, I spent the better part of the night talking about beloved books with my new friends.
I attended the midweek service at Lord's Chapel (where that running rector serves) and learned that the congregation was on the cusp of a new ministry called Hope House. The congregation's enthusiasm was contagious and I found myself wondering how I could help. Before I walked back to my B & B, I mentioned to Father Tim that I think the church should consider offering virtual services. It is self-serving, I know, but I want badly to be a part of their faith community, even if it cannot be in person.
Toward the end of the week, I rented a bike at Melvin's Bike Repair for a two-wheeled tour of the entire town and surrounding area that concluded with a peaceful picnic (one of my new "H" books in hand) beside the little creek that runs through the town.
By the end of the week, I was reluctant to close the book on my one-person retreat, my own personal holiday from the sometimes humdrum, sometimes hectic pace of my real life.
I felt so At Home in Mitford that I wanted to stay in Jan Karon's fantastic, fictional community in North Carolina where everyone knows your name and the people truly are glad you came. A town that reminded me of my favorite television town, Stars Hollow. The Mitford townspeople are caring, the mayor is a friendly female version of Taylor Doose, and the Miss Patty of the neighborhood works in the church office.
A town, quite simply, that is idyllic.
The one we'd all choose to live in, if it existed this side of heaven.
A town where the people are connected by the bonds of love. Self-sacrificing love. True love.
Until that time, I will keep my eyes peeled the next time I visit my local "low cost carrier" (Half Price Books) for a "dirt cheap fare" (clearance section) to my new favorite destination (fictional Mitford, NC).