Wednesday, May 28, 2014

You Say "Bag", I Say "Bag"

The past week of 90 degree highs confirms that summer has a firm grip on Florida and will not be letting go for a few very long months.

Summertime means park time and park time means I am once again reminded that I am not from around here.

Silas and I were playing near the slides when another group of kids showed up. Silas's go-to friendship gesture is to grab a big handful of wood chips and bring them to the new people.

One of the older boys, perhaps about ten, looked at me and asked, "What is he doing?"

"He's trying to share some wood chips with you," I responded as I brushed the chips out of Silas's hand, telling him that not everyone wants to hold onto wood chips.

"What are woodchips?" the boy asked next, and I blinked, so he clarified. "You mean the mulch?"

"Yeah," I said, nodding. "Wood chips are another name for mulch."

What I didn't say is that where I came from, the term "mulch" was much more closely related to fertilizer as a term. And to be clear, when I say fertilizer, I'm thinking of manure. Feces. You know? Yuck. I thought about how I had never heard "mulch" used in conjunction with a playground growing up. And then I remembered something that had happened several months ago.

A friend had taken Silas to the park while I was taking an exam. Later, when I picked him up, she apologized. "He only wanted to sit down in the mulch and play! Luckily, they had just put down clean mulch, if that helps."

I had been slightly confused, wondering what the definition of clean manure meant. I trusted her judgement and figured Silas had not been harmed. I joked about how he'd have to build his immune system some day. Then I went on with my life completely unaware that I had experienced a communication error until just now.

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