In stark simplicity, a message that whispers

canoe on lakeThe following article was written by Roger Groce for the November 1st issue of the Mt. Gretna Newsletter. I think it speaks beautifully of our community. Mr. Groce was kind enough to allow me to share it here, so that you can enjoy it as well.


The last falling leaves of November open a new chapter in Mt. Gretna life. It is not so much that we have lost summer, or that the beauty of fall has faded, or that the first hints of winter have begun to settle in. Rather, a door swings wide in November, opening onto something new to appreciate.

Small towns may have the best vantage point. The approach of winter brings gifts that warm hearts and lift spirits. Some who live here year-round may have grown accustomed to familiar sights and sounds of people amid natural surroundings, but not inured to their presence. They add a glow that enriches the shortening days. All have become central to our world, a sturdy, dependable reservoir that fortifies the central core of a satisfying life. Call it the bonus of small town living. It is a quality that many newcomers sense, almost immediately.

path through woods in autumnOn more than one occasion in past weeks, visitors have come to Mt. Gretna for their first visit. They are like startled explorers, suddenly immersed in a world they never expected to find. You see them wandering through streets in Chautauqua and walking up lanes in the Campmeeting, emerging from a hike along the rail trail or enjoying the pleasure of meandering through open fields near the lake. Sometimes with cameras, walking alone. Sometimes in pairs, holding hands. But always with an awakened awe, a sense that something they’ve missed for a long time has suddenly been rekindled. Something repressed but not forgotten, something that penetrates deeply with unyielding fervor into the soul.

They come from places like Philadelphia, or Baltimore or New York City. Busy cities that offer variety, abundant choices and diversions but rarely an oasis for reflective moments.

Most haven’t a clue that something called the Jigger Shop thrives in the summer, with long lines of people, soaking up the sheer joys of June, July and August in Mt. Gretna. Most find the vacant Playhouse a curious oddity of an air-conditioned world. None of what we who live here would consider intrinsic to Mt. Gretna life really is on display.

Yet they come.

Drawn by something that has no commercial appeal. Neither coffee shops nor donut emporiums nor drug stores.

autumn foliageAs a magnet for people in the off-season, it is something no enterprising merchant would ever dream up. Something born with neither business plans nor profitability projections. Yet something that has always been here. Something that does not respond to the sound of constantly ringing cash registers.

Something more closely aligned, perhaps, to the sound of a beating heart. It is now, in this increasingly silent time, that we get close to what those who came here a century ago must have felt.

And it is in such moments that we glimpse what it is that makes Mt. Gretna special, and what we want to endure.

It speaks to those who come for the first time, and also to those of us who have made it our home.

Written by Roger Groce
The Mt. Gretna Newsletter
November 1, 2013

emi snavely

Emi Snavely
Brownstone Real Estate