I’ve been reflecting this past week on how grateful I am to be a Latter-day Saint. I will confess that some of these reflections are driven by my work on the cultural history of early Mormonism, but–against my better academic judgment–I have been experimenting with the lived aspects of the religion I have been studying, specifically our Eden-emphatic agrarian quest for the primordial state of purity.
In the last few weeks, I have, with my wife, ripped up 300sq ft of nasty Kentucky bluegrass, spade-tilled the garden plot thereby created, and begun to bury shoots and seeds of various vegetables in it. I have listened with great fascination as my wife describes some of the archival work on the Mormon component of her dissertation on Radical Food in the early to mid twentieth century. I will let her tell the story, in part at MHA this year, but I have been inspired by the radical agrarianism of Leah Widtsoe, her mother, and her husband. I have attended a Slow Food meeting with small ranchers in Utah, sampled the delicacy of braised lamb necks beside polenta, and begun plans to carve out sufficient freezer space to welcome half a pig and half a lamb (and later perhaps a half a side of beef) into our larder.
I will leave the gardening polemics and eloquent flights of fancy to people (from what I can tell my wife likes Barbara Kingsolver
and Maya Angelou among the popular creators in this tradition) with much better credentials and wider experience, but I just felt this morning to praise the Creator and our wondrous church for the pleasures of seedlings and earthworms and a soil that is working from dry clay to the motley multiplicity of life-giving decomposition; to marvel gratefully that our stories about the Savior draw deeply from the rhythms, aspirations, and nourishing cycles of agriculture; to whisper stunned gratitude that our heavenly parent has allowed me to participate in creation with my wife; to acknowledge and admire the kindred spirit I see in the rebellious and curious and powerful farmer-prophet who brought God’s message of Eden’s return to me. I Thank Thee, O God, For Eve and Adam and Their Garden.
 As I realized in a “count your blessings” class in Sunday School, my wife is perhaps the greatest blessing I have “received” from Church/Gospel.
 This is a freebie. As we were creating the garden plot, I asked one of the kids who helped us create new life in the garden. She seemed confused, so I said, “God.” She answered “Mommy.” Then she countered with “Jesus,” and the youngest piped up, “and Strawberry Shortcake,” a reference to a scented doll with inadvertent red dred locks.
 I owe the Kentucky hillsides an apology. I should say “unceremoniously and foolishly transplanted bluegrass.” Clearly KY grass has a wonderful home in KY, where it actually rains. My complaint is that we’ve taken this southern grass that loves water and smeared it over desert clay.