Early in our marriage, I found him in the kitchen rummaging through the cabinets looking for something. Thinking I could be of some help, I asked what he was looking for.

He replied, “I need a poke.” I found his choice of words funny. It sounded like something the darlings on the Andy Griffith show might have said.

It also reminded me of a television commercial years ago that had a little cartoonish, Hawaiian guy asking for a Hawaiian Punch. A large fist would slam into him, and it would be explained that “punch” was a drink.

I almost laughed when he said he needed a poke. I wanted so bad to take my forefinger and drill it into his side.

Based upon the several items he was holding in his arms and knowing that it was his intention to carry them out to the car, I was able to put together the context clues and conclude he was looking for a bag. I’m not sure I had ever heard someone use the word "poke" in reference to a bag, but Webster confirmed that the word could be a noun defined as a bag, sack, wallet or purse.

I decided not to mention that I had looked the word up to confirm his use of the word, as I could see him teasing me about having a matching poke to go with my shoes or asking if I had any money in my poke. Sometimes it is best if you leave well enough, alone.

I have heard the word "bag" called a sack, as in a grocery sack. I thought that sounded country enough, but poke tops my list as one of the most country-sounding words I know of. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being country, and I am proud to say I grew up in the country. However, using the word "poke" in reference to a bag is a little more country than I want to be.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother would take me shopping downtown. Our purchases would be carried from the stores in bags we called a “shopping bag.” It was a big paper bag with handles at the top. Many of them were colorful or had the store’s logo on the sides. Something about them made you stand a little taller and walk with a strut. You felt good leaving the store with a new dress or pair of shoes in a colorful shopping bag.

At Christmas or other celebrations where gifts are in order, I have been the recipient of a present in a gift bag. The heavy paper and colorful bag excites me almost as much as the gift it might contain. Sometimes the gift bag has a bow and colorful tissue paper to conceal the item being gifted to me. A gift wrapped in paper with a ribbon and bow can be beautiful, but there is something about the gift bag that excites me more. It is like getting two gifts, as you get to keep the bag as well.

So why am I jabbering on about bags in my column today? It is because I read a story about sea turtles choking on the plastic one-use bags that most businesses use today. The sea turtles think the bags are jelly fish, which is one of their favorite meals.

These plastic bags are a threat to birds, marine life and wildlife of all types. The bags blow in the wind and end up in streams, forests and oceans. When they do make it to the landfill, it takes them 500 years to break down. It has been reported that on average, the useful life of a one-time plastic bag you carry a grocery item in from the store to your home is 12 minutes. You got 12 minutes of use from something that will take 500 years to recycle into the environment.

I read that Myrtle Beach is in the process of banning single-use plastic bags in 2021. I endorse and applaud your efforts. Not only do I support Myrtle Beach in trying to protect the environment for future generations, I think that the rest of the country, including Florence, should follow in its footsteps.

Most stores have paper bags, and some might even ask which you prefer: paper or plastic. Take the paper. Many stores have the big paper shopping bags that will make you feel good about your purchases. Some stores such as Lidl charge a dime for a big paper shopping bag with handles. In the scheme of things, what is 10 cents when it can be used over and over when you go shopping? And it helps protect the environment as well.

If you don’t see the paper recyclable bags, ask for them. They most likely have them and won’t charge extra.

When you make the request, don’t ask for a paper poke. The younger-generation bag boy won’t have a clue as to what you want.

Dr. Darlene Atkinson-Moran grew up in Olanta. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She is retired from the education profession and now resides in Florence with her husband, Michael.