Welcome to the Literary Road Trip and my Spotlight On . . . Mariah Stewart. Mariah's newest book in her Chesapeake Diaries series is Home Again, and it is currently on a book blog tour.
Although her Chesapeake books are, of course, set in Maryland, they really aren't so far afield from Mariah's country home. Here's how she found her perfect place.
I was born in Philadelphia, but before I turned two, my family moved to central New Jersey, back when New Jersey really was the Garden State. There were fields and woods behind our house and a farm down the road. Is it surprising that I feel more at home surrounded by fields and woods than I do city streets and tall buildings?
When I moved back to PA as an adult, I lived in a pretty little town with lots of Victorian houses and wide streets in Philadelphia’s outer circle. I loved that town—still do—but once our daughters left for college, my husband and I wanted some respite from the congested highways and pollution and stress of living so close to the city. We both love the country, so it was natural for us to begin our new home search in Chester County.
We built the house of our dreams upon an acre of ground that was once part of the farm where Thomas McKean—a signer of the Declaration of Independence—was born. That fall, while the house was being built, we spent almost every Sunday exploring all the little side roads and driving those endless miles of beautiful Pennsylvania farmland.
That’s how we came to be driving past a pretty little farm one Sunday afternoon—a farm with a barn from which emerged fifty or sixty people of all ages, all in Amish garb. We had no idea that the town of Oxford, the largest town in this part of Chester County, had a large Amish population, or that many of the farms between our home and Oxford were Amish owned.
Since then, we’ve gotten to know several farmers and their families quite well, and we’ve become frequent visitors to their farms where, in season, we buy all our fruits and vegetables, eggs and dairy products (my husband, a nutrition counselor and proponent of organic and natural foods, thinks he’s died and gone to heaven, as my mom would say!). We’ve watched their children grow from babies to schoolchildren, others from adolescence to adulthood. We’ve watched just-born calves stand for the first time in their fields, and little piglets romp like puppies in their barns.
It’s been one of the happy surprises of living here, but not the only one.
Here in southeastern PA, we’re really close to the Chesapeake Bay, one of my all-time favorite places. St. Dennis, where I’ve set the Chesapeake Diaries, is a composite of several of those charming little towns that dot the bay’s shores. Inspiration is only a half hour away when I need it, and my country home is waiting for me when I return. Farm-fresh produce on the one hand, fresh seafood on the other: for foodies like us, that’s the best of both worlds. I count my blessings every day!
I am clearly living in the wrong area of Pennsylvania. Chester County is a beautiful part of the state, and indeed it is known for its picturesque farms and wonderful produce. And less than an hour from the bay? Yes, you are in heaven. (Photo credits: Chester Co. farm and Chesapeake Bay from Wikimedia; in the public domain.)
Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-seven novels of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives in southern Chester County, Pennsylvania, with her husband, their daughter, and their dogs.
To learn more about Mariah, visit her website or her Facebook page.