On a beautiful day in the Valley, in what's been a beautiful autumn, we're casting our gaze across our beloved home town and feeling the unmistakeable glean of pride and joy as we bask in the goodness of this place.
Staunton, Virginia has been very good to us.
Our lovely hamlet (actually a small city with a population of 24,000), has been blessed by something unique in the late-20th and early 21st centuries.
That is, rather than tear the place to shreds in pursuit of sprawl and cheap new buildouts, Staunton's classic "Main Street" downtown was lovingly saved from destruction in the late 20th century, preserving an iconic skyline and streetscape that continues to deliver human-scale walkability and liveability to this day.
And we're very thankful for that!
One of the most amazing results of historic streetscape preservation is that the accessible streets and avenues create an inviting sense of place, a mood noticed almost immediately by anyone who visits.
It's the same recognition that has lead to so many accolades for Staunton across myriad publications and national designations.
But more than mere "awards and rankings," Staunton lives and breathes this streetscape in a way that serves small-scale local business, the very "shop local" and "live local" ethos that is defining a shift in American living from anonymous big box stores, bland franchise restaurants, and cold malls to the much preferred vibe of neighborhood eateries and locally owned mom and pop shops. (In fact this coming weekend is a great time to explore downtown since it's "Small Business Saturday," a gentler and more meaningful alternative to the awful — and often violent— "Black Friday," concept.)
We're thankful for this too because just steps outside of our downtown hotel are an array of places to visit that span the range from world-class arts and history offerings to eclectic shopping to top chef dining to quirky indie cinema and little portals and hubs for upcycled antiques, vintage goods, and possibly the biggest selection of used books of any place of comprable size.
And this is our home! It's just outside our door.
No, really...you take 50, maybe 100 steps from our door and you're in the thick of this unaltered slice of Americana in its newly sophisticated revival.
Yes, we're thankful!
We give Thanksgiving for this place not only because it's one heckuva cool place for us to live...but because we get to share it with you, our guests.
Of course we stand up a little taller and talk a little prouder when we get to brag on Staunton, Virginia.
It's just that good!
On its own, Staunton is glorious, a fabulous small city nestled in the lovely Shenandoah Valley.
But no one thinks of Staunton purely on its own. It's precisely that close access to a band of greenspace surrounding the city that gives Staunton an added glow of gold.
Whether it's the ecologically-friendly farms of Joel Salatin's Polyface (and many others), or the nearby Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, with their myriad creeks, forests, vistas, and solitary places to commune with nature, it's the very proximity to all this that adds outdoor charm and natural gravitas to Staunton.
And this is to say nothing of history, from the Native Americans to the story of conditions from our nation's founding to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and beyond.
We're so full of gratiitude for all this diversity of natural beauty and historic richness.
At Thanksgiving time, and all year round, it's easy for us to count our blessings of not only family, not only a prosperous and happy business, not only neighbors and friends who are interesting and industrious, but also a thankfulness for the joy of place.
Staunton, Virginia, we're thankful for you!
— Joe and Evy (rhymes with heavy) Harman, Proprietors, Frederick House