Chris Johnson

Thinking about scupplins while dodging chimley sweets

I just got through winding down at one of the all-time great places to wind down after a long day at work -- the second-floor veranda of the historic Windsor Hotel in Americus, Ga.

With its wicker rockers, giant ferns and a host of folks who talk like me, there are few more Southern places in Georgia.

Now, I don’t mean Southern like Jeff Foxworthy you-might-be-a-redneck or over-the-top obnoxious trying-to-re-create “Gone with the Wind” Southern. I just mean genuine folks who like to talk about the weather and aren’t afraid to speak with a Southern accent.

I sat next to a beautiful, classy Southern lady whose accent is so syrupy sweet that you need an insulin shot after talking to her. She sipped a bay breeze and I nursed a margarita as we watched the sun set and give way to a distant lightning show.

She grew up in a small Georgia town like I did, but she lives close to an interstate and has gotten a little citified. I’ve moved away from the interstate and the city and gotten countryfied. Or re-countryfied. I told her all about the country life, including all the vegetables and fruits growing around the cabin I now call home. I also told her about the expanse of muscadine vines.

“Mmm, I love scufflins!” she said.

That’s the first time I’ve ever heard such a term for muscadines. Of course, I don’t call them muscadines that’s for high-fallutin’ folks. Some folks call them scuppernongs or scuppernons, but I call them scupplins.

“You mean scupplins,” I corrected.

“Whatever,” she said. Agreed. Genteel Southern folks like me never let semantics get in the way of good sunset-on-the-veranda conversation. Even if scufflin is something you do if you catch somebody hittin’ on your gal. We agreed that we needed to go muscadine grazing at the cabin, even if she didn’t know the proper term for them. Just then, she squealed.

Now, I love me some scupplins, but not enough to squeal about them. Then she ducked and I realized we’d moved on from the muscadine vine. Little birds were darting in and out of the veranda area.

“Aieee! Chimley sweets!” she squealed.

“You mean chimney sweeps,” I said, referring to the crazy, hyperactive birds some call chimney swifts.

“No! A chimley! Like a fireplace has!”

“Oh, a chimley!” I said concedingly. “Sorry, I must have been thinking of something else.”

Despite the beautiful sunset and the lady’s charming Southern accent, I had to suck down those last couple of sips from the margarita and leave one of my favorite places. It’s just so hard to wind down while rocking next to someone who don’t talk good English.

Chris Johnson is an independent correspondent. He can be reached at