Covenstead: A small town cozy mystery setting with holiday vibes

Amorette Anderson

My Midlife Medicine cozy mystery books are set in a magical village in southern Vermont called Covenstead. I was born and raised in Vermont and have since moved away, so writing these books has been such a joy. While writing I get to drive along the dirt back roads, take in the colorful foliage, and poke around an apple festival or two. I get to walk in the woods, along streams, and across fields. I get to see the weather rolling across a lake, listen to chickadees, and stomp through fresh snow. 

One of the best experiences I’ve had with this series was recently, when I put my mind to writing a Christmas themed book. Given that it was late spring when I was writing and my day-to-day life in the southwestern corner of Colorado was filled with blooming flowers and hot, sunny days, it was a little bit odd to be writing about deep snow and ice-covered ponds. Odd… but fun! Once I got into the right mindset I had a ball experiencing the snowy, Christmas vibes in Covenstead with the series’ main character, Grace Littleton. 

So, you might be wondering: What’s Covenstead like during the holidays? In this post, I’ll tell you all about it! 

The Heart of the Village Lights Up

Villages in Vermont usually have a center, and that’s likely where the local church, town hall, and general store are located. There may be a few other little businesses or community-type buildings there, like a courthouse, a restaurant, a library, or a fire department. Maybe even a jail or sheriff’s department. Along with these public places, there are houses, sometimes extra dolled-up because they’re in a spotlight of sorts, seen by other villagers on a daily basis. 

In Covenstead, the residents who live in the heart of the village take pride in the appearance of their homes: you’ll find sprawling, wild and colorful gardens, white picket fences, freshly-painted blue siding. There are pretty and thoughtful touches everywhere you look. This is especially true during the holiday season. 

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Photo by James Wheeler on Unsplash

From Thanskgiving onward, every home is draped in strings of colored or white lights. In the yards, the gardens, shrubs and trees are adorned with sparkling lights, too. You’ll also see lit up reindeer, snowmen, angels, and more. The local general store, Goodrich Brothers, puts up plenty of those big-bulbed vintage style colored lights. As you can imagine, a walk along the sidewalk through the heart of the village on a wintery night is a favorite activity for the locals! 

Wholesome and Cozy Get Togethers 

I love to write about wholesome settings. I have wonderful memories of growing up in small town Vermont. One is of a New Year's Day party that a family who lived nearby hosted each year. There was always great food, cross country skiing, and a bonfire. The party was a nice way to see all your neighbors in one place and wish everyone a good year. I’ve tried to capture the flavor of some of these “wholesome” memories that I have and infuse them into my books. 

In this latest Christmas-themed story I’ve written, First Aid and Figgy Pudding, everyone in town is getting ready for the big Skate and Sing party that happens every year, a week before Christmas day. 

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Photo by Nadin Mario on Unsplash

The Skate and Sing party is a town tradition, and most folks look forward to it for months ahead of time, if not longer. The party features a sing-along (what could be more wholesome than that?) where everyone belts out traditional carols. Then, it’s on to figgy pudding, provided by a woman in town who happens to add a dash of maple syrup to nearly everything she cooks or bakes (even tomato sauce). Afterward, the patch of ice that’s been cleared of snow is the place to be. This natural rink is the perfect place for gliding around on figure skates or ice skates before warming up by the bonfire. Doesn’t that sound like fun? 

The Book Store is Hoppin’ 

I love bookstores… don’t you? There’s something really special about being surrounded by shelves of glossy paperbacks, hardcover tomes, and leather-bound journals just waiting to be filled up. I even usually like the knick-knacks by the register, and finding the hidden shelves of funny-smelling used books near the back of the store. 

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Photo by James Barker on Unsplash

Covenstead has a stellar book store that’s also partly a coffee shop. Here’s an introduction to Grace’s connection to this special place: 

“Black Crow Books was one of Grace’s favorite spots in Covenstead for many reasons, the first being that her boyfriend, Ben Swanson, owned it. He loved his work, and if the book store was open he could be found baking or cooking in the attached kitchen, ringing up books, or organizing the shelves. Thus, a visit to the store meant a warm hug and kiss from the man she loved, and who wouldn’t like that? Then there was the atmosphere: warm, golden-yellow walls, tall shelves of books to pursue, pretty wooden tables and chairs, and a cozy fireplace. 

She often spent hours at her favorite table, taste-testing Ben’s latest kitchen creations or reading a paperback novel plucked from the shelves." 

- First Aid and Figgy Pudding by Amorette Anderson

During the holidays, Black Crow Books is usually really busy. Add in a few holiday decorations and Christmas music, and you have a festive atmosphere. Here’s a peek in: 

“The place was lit up with early-afternoon sunshine, and each window gave a view of the sparkling white snow outside. A fire crackled in the hearth across the room, and townsfolk filled the chairs positioned around it, either chatting or reading. There were Yuletide decorations up on every spare surface and holiday tunes played softly below the buzz of happy shoppers. A shelf of Christmas-themed children’s books featured prominently in the middle of the shop, and it was ringed with kids who had the day off, pointing to the ones they hoped to get from Santa.”

-First Aid and Figgy Pudding by Amorette Anderson

I like to write about towns that are friendly, wholesome, and old-fashioned. Covenstead definitely fits the bill. The holidays bring the best out in this little town. The heart of the village is lit up with pretty lights. Town parties give villagers a place to get together and share a cup of cocoa. The local bookstore is busy and festive. 

I’d love to hear from you. What’s one thing you love about the way your village, town, or city celebrates the holidays? Is there a part of town that gets extra dolled up with lights, or a tree lighting ceremony? Comment below! Can’t wait to hear from you. 

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