Staunton, VA did not disappoint on my second visit. In the summer, on my last visit, the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding the Shenandoah Valley lived up to their name, a misty gray-blue rolling line set against a clear azure sky. This time, however, shedding late fall trees still held onto enough leaves to turn misty blue to glowing auburn and in the morning light each leaf shined like a tiny little sun.

Staunton itself buzzed with red-cheeked people enjoying the crisp autumn air. It’s a place where everyone smiles, the buildings drip with history on the outside and sing with the unique artisanship on the inside. It’s the kind of place where you want to take pictures of all the doors with their layers of chipped paint and old brass doorknobs (which I did) and make one of those Door of <Insert Place Here> posters (stay tuned).

Before the book signing, we ate at a local farm-to-table restaurant. Normally, I don’t take pictures of my food. However, I made an exception today for my tasty Healthy Hippie brunch (eggs, spinach, mushrooms and gluten free bread that actually tasted good). The restaurant/local produce store, called Nu-Beginning Farm’s The Store, embodied what makes Staunton special. Paintings and photographs from local artist hung on the walls. Bob Dylan piped through the speakers. A chalkboard listed the nearby farms for all the food items. The friendly chef took time to come and speak with us. The store had the feeling of being inside someone’s home.

After lunch, we headed over to The Sacred Circle Bookstore and Gift Shop for the book signing. This wonderful store simmers with hospitality and warmth. (Plus did I mention it’s right next door to a chocolate shop? It’s like this town was made for me.)

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The owner, Carey, and his co-worker, Abbey, graciously shared their store with me. Every person I met, including twin sisters having a weekend getaway together and my friend’s aunt who lives nearby reminded me that books can bring people together in more ways than one.

The town and, especially The Sacred Circle, was like walking into a giant warm hug. It was a great time! Can’t wait to have another one!

Visit The Sacred Circle’s website or Facebook page to learn more about this wonderful store.

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