by Carl Wayne Hardeman
While Alabama claims to be the Heart of Dixie, Mississippi is the true Soul of Dixie. While researching the state's history recently, I came upon evidence that leads one to suspect, if not believe, its history is far older and of greater import than previously thought.
Could the grand state of Mississippi be the original Garden of Eden? Surely her beautiful verdant cloak and rolling hills and flowing streams would constitute prima facie evidence. But let's stick to the facts. As Sgt Joe Friday would say: "Just the facts, ma'am!"
To begin, the Garden as faithfully, and I believe, literally described in the Good Book was in the land of Mesopotamia, between two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. The combination of name similarity and geographical siting gave me pause, yea even startled me.
Could Mississippi be a latter day mispronunciation of Mesopotamia? Might the mighty river to her west be the Tigris, as evidenced by LSU's selection of a mascot - a tiger of the species Bayou Bengal? Then, Glory Be, I found an old Corps of Engineering plan for the Tombigbee Waterway, on Mesopotamia's, I mean Mississippi's, east side with a revealing marginal notation: "Eur. Freighters," an obvious attempt by an engineering type to spell Euphrates.
I believe it is no coincidence that the land to the east of Mississippi is the Land of Nod. It is described as being east of Eden, and is probably a TLA, three letter acronym, for No Obvious Distinction.
All this evidence is compelling by itself, but let's turn to the story and main characters. Let me refresh your memory. The Good Lord planted a garden, then male and female created He them, then pronounced it good. Next He told Adam to tend the garden, thus making gardening the world's oldest profession. Sometime later He returned and pronounced it not good, saying that man should not be left alone, or something close to that.
Jewish mythology postulates Adam had a first wife, Lilith, who left him after an argument over, well you can guess, thus giving the Good Lord reason to pronounce things not good. Look it up in your Funk & Wagnalls Dictionary or online at: LILITH.
My personal opinion: Adam, like many men I know, was not as diligent in housekeeping, or gardenkeeping, as he should have been; there was no Lilith; and Adam clearly needed a wife to tidy things up. Thus was Eve created. I suspect her first words were: "This place is a mess!"
Originally they wore no clothes, until that unfortunate incident with the serpent and the original urban myth he sprung on them. Afterwards they stitched together fig leaves for clothes. I imagine Adam wanted Eve to wear smaller leaves of the Celeste variety while she insisted on the large leaves of the Brown Turkey variety for herself. She most likely nixed the small leaf outfits knowing that would simply not do at a family reunion.
To me this is further evidence for local siting of the Garden of Eden, since both fig varieties bear fruit and leaves profusely across the state. By the way, The five second rule was a full minute in those days for when one might drop a fig and still be able to pick it up and eat it.
One other observation. It did not rain in the Garden of Eden. All indications are Mississippi is returning to that state. Ask any farmer.
While my research is not conclusive, it is compelling and deserves further research by the great institutes of higher learning across our state. Who knows? Perhaps the petrified wood near Canton, Mississippi, is the Ark.
Carl Wayne tells us about himself:
"I write gardening articles for the Collierville, Tennessee, Independent, the Southaven, Mississippi, Press, and Desoto Magazine, all from a Southern perspective. I point out the correct pronunciation of ants (aints) and peonies (peOnies) and advise always to plant hydrangeas on the north side of the house. I've been in software development forty years, the last twenty with a large overnight express delivery company. I have taught computer science as adjunct faculty at local universities over twenty-five years. We have a small farm in Pontotoc County, Mississippi, where we raise a large garden with my in-laws. My in-laws were there when the REA strung the first electric wires in that area. They were killing hogs. That night for supper they had liver and lights."
Read more of Carl Wayne's stories at USADS:
Laws Hill Fish House
Southern Weights and Measurements
Eco-friendly gardening: Yes, It's Weeds
Me and Mimi in the Garden
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