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On the TV show Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove, Andie MacDowell plays a judge in a town not unlike the one where she grew up.
The first thing I thought when I read the script for the Hallmark Channel series Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove was, I know this place.
I was being offered the lead role, the part of Judge Olivia Lockhart, and there was a lot about her that resonated with me: her strength, her desire to do the right thing, her compassion, her dedication to her job.
But more than all that, I knew the small town she lived in. And I know, deep in my heart and soul, the wonders and blessings of such places. If you grew up in a small town, like I did, you might travel far away, even move to a big city for work, like I did, but you’re never really far from your roots.
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My hometown of Gaffney, in upcountry South Carolina, with its blossoming peach trees and Southern drawls, is thousands of miles from the mist-shrouded coast of the Pacific Northwest, where the fictional Cedar Cove sits, but they have that same small-town spirit.
Take a walk down Main Street and you’ll find a diner with good down-home cooking and a waitress who knows what you’re having without even asking, a barbershop where every play in the Friday night football game is dissected and debated, a town square with a bronze statue of a local hero.
What I learned in Gaffney is that people always make time for each other. You don’t just wave and walk on by. You stop and chat...and chat...and chat some more.
If someone gets sick, neighbors rally round them. If a historic oak tree, rumored to have been there since before the Revolutionary War, is threatened by highway development, everybody signs petitions and writes letters to the town paper until that road gets rerouted.
In a small town everyone knows you. Folks in Gaffney would stop me on the street. “Rosie, how are you?” “Rosie, tell me about your mother,” “Rosie, are you and your sisters going up to Asheville again for the summer?” they would say, calling me by my given name (I was christened Rosalie Anderson MacDowell).
There were times, especially when I was a teenager, that I wondered why everyone had to know each other’s business. Now I’m so grateful for small-town friendliness. I’d go so far as to say it’s lifesaving.
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Isolation is one of the great sorrows of our modern world and loneliness is the cause of more suffering than anyone knows. Slowing down (better yet, sitting down for a spell) and sharing your news, good or bad, definitely keeps you connected.
It’s important for us, as spiritual beings, to feel as if we belong somewhere, that we’re part of a community, where we care for each other and stand up for each other.
And where we celebrate together too. In Gaffney we had Easter egg hunts in the park. Veteran’s Appreciation Day. On the Fourth of July kids decorated their bikes with red, white and blue streamers and rode in the town parade.
We had hayrides come autumn, and at Christmas everyone had a role in the pageant (there were lots of little angels with paper wings and tinfoil halos).
Andie MacDowell stars in Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove on the Hallmark Channel.