Lake Norman Magazine

A Big Backyard of the Mind, and More, at Davidson College

Visiting my Deep South kin over the Christmas holidays, I made plans to go see an Alabama cousin I hadn’t laid eyes on in 14 years.

“Yeah, I got two-and-a-half acres that backs up to Bankhead National Forest, so I really have about a 180,000-acre backyard now,” Hunter told me on the phone. “And three dogs.”

Three dogs, a cabin and 180,000 acres? I was in nearby Muscle Shoals before sundown the next evening. It was raining, so I only got a grainy iPad shot of the famous Fame Studios before grabbing dinner and a motel room. Unfortunately, overnight Aunt Shirley’s basement flooded in Birmingham, Hunter called bright and early to say, so we had to take a rain check on roaming the 180,000-acre backyard. For now.

Still, as I headed east out of Muscle Shoals, my travelin’ mind wandered over backyards I’ve known, literally and figuratively.

There was that first one in Winston-Salem, with its long brick sandbox and its playhouse built of two-by-fours and a green Fiberglas roof. A propos of nothing, I can share that once or twice we got duckling chicks at Easter, and kept them until it was time to load them in the trunk of the family Caprice and go release them discreetly in a pond at Reynolda Gardens.

When I was 8, my horizons expanded up the side of a Transylvania County mountainside that was backyard to my summer camp cabin. When I was 12, more growth, as I discovered Shining Rock Wilderness.

In college, Davidson showed me new ways to explore the backyard of my bookish mind, in the realms of the liberal arts and sciences.

My Davidson junior year abroad in France further opened my perspectives and instilled a lifelong love of discovering new backyards in real space and time, as well as imagination.

I do love to travel, and I do love to come home. So it was good after my Christmas gallivanting to roll in home to my condo on the lake, where the nearby green, green grass of Davidson’s campus serves as backyard—literally and figuratively—for many in the Lake Norman area.

Classes start this week, so now’s the time for us all to take a look at the campus calendar to see what’s going on in the liberal arts and sciences in the next few months on campus.

Visit the college’s homepage at to keep an eye on upcoming events or access a campus map; click straight into the campus calendar; or email to sign up for the monthly Davidson Events Digest.

See you in the backyard!