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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Ligonier: Almost Magical

Last December my husband and I were guests of Thistledown at Seger House. It was a newer establishment, having just been renovated. The stay was a journey back in time. With its lovely woodwork, homey, old-fashioned Christmas decor, and some of the sweetest people running it, my husband and I felt as if we were a part of a Norman Rockwell painting, book, or magazine.

You see I had chuckled to myself earlier that day while walking through the quaint town of Ligonier, Pennsylvania. The movie "Funny Farm" came to mind, but not in a bad or irreverent way. If you've seen the movie, you'll remember near the end when Chevy Chase and his wife are divorcing they needed to sell their lovely country home. They called upon the citizens of Redbud, the quaint town nearby, to dress and act like something out of a Norman Rockwell Christmas magazine to help them push the house to prospective buyers. The town was aglow with lights, carolers and such coziness, you wish you lived there yourself.

On that day last December, I found myself in such a town. Snowflakes flitted upon the air, lacy and delicate. Lovely Christmas music was playing, piped through the gazebo in the town square. Shopkeepers smiled warm greetings at my husband and I as we walked by. Everywhere we went, a bit of Christmas cheer was tucked into a cozy corner.

My husband and I have adopted the charming town of Ligonier as if we were one of their own. Any time we have a few hours, or even a few days to take a small trip, we choose this quiet, picture-perfect retreat. We've made friends there and have grown to love the town in a way only someone who's lived there all their life might feel.

My writer's imagination went wild during our stay at Thistledown. We were the only ones there that snowy December evening. The fireplace crackled in our room, wind rattled the panes of the windows. We found it romantic and alluring, and for me, the perfect writing retreat.

 A story began blossoming in my head that night. I'd been visiting my husband's elderly uncle in a nursing home for several years. I'd seen him taking care of his beloved wife after her stroke, and eventually succumbing to his own illnesses after she passed. Love like theirs had really stood the test of time. He felt she was the most beautiful woman even though sickness and age had overtaken her. What if I wrote about their love?

I began a fictional story that evening about two people who meet in the golden years. The story flowed fast and the setting of course, had to be the town of Ligonier. Where else could romance blossom so? It became a labor of love to me, the tale of Harry and Rose, their tragic pasts and  future hope. Recently, I was honored to have this book published, this "hats off" to my favorite town, and also a tribute to love woven in time. It is my hope that others will read this book, become captivated by true love, and also yearn for their own journey to a town that feels almost magical to me.

Karen Malena, author

Other books by Karen Malena

And my inspirational blog: