Rumination on Soiled Hands, #1

Half a life-time ago, I studied “ornamental horticulture” at City College of San Francisco. In one of my first classes there, the teacher brought a bag into the greenhouse classroom and emptied its contents onto the floor. He asked the class what we called what he had just dumped. Everybody said dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt.

No, the teacher said. This is not dirt. This is soil. Dirt is what you wash off your hands. You grow things in soil. Soil is productive.

But, if dirty hands need to be cleaned, what do you do with soiled hands? When do soiled hands become dirty hands?

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