Below is an excerpt from a column originally published on It’s a Southern Thing. Click here to read the full column now.
Some people wonder, what makes the South the South? Is it the borders of a group of states? The food? The mindset? Why do we Southerners think of ourselves as having an “otherness,” a sense of togetherness, that no other region in the nation can match?
We don’t all sound the same, or look the same, or have the same genes. We certainly don’t all think the same. But, in some indefinable way, we are a family. We sense one another in a crowd.
It isn’t always easy to define the South but I can define my South.
Entry into my South is through parting of curtains, but not the heavy velvet or brocade kind. These curtains are the living, lush-green drapes that separated the backyard of my home at 123 Lake Drive in Warner Robins, Ga., from the mysterious woods beyond. My big brother, Doofus, and I would head there each weekend or summer morning, often with several friends in tow, prepared to rough it until Mom, rumbling stomachs or the darkness called us home. On two sides of our yard, the trees formed a natural barrier, demarcating our two worlds, the one where we co-existed with adults and social confines, and the other filled with fantastical places where kids made the rules.
We’d step between those velvety green curtains and enter a world with a soundtrack of whirring cicadas, skittering lizards, rustling leaves, panting dogs, and the sharp yips and laughter made only by children who are out of the presence of grown-ups. Click here to read the full column.