Commodification of the Commons: Bottled Water, Seeds, and Vaccines

I watched a video clip a few years ago of a small group of First Nations people facing off across a river against a couple of suited up pipeline executives.  The executives were carrying cases of bottled water, held up like a peace offering.  An elder woman told the men they weren’t welcome on the sovereign First Nation territory. Later, the elder spoke to the camera of her outrage and sorrow at the ignorance and arrogance of any who would think that bottled water could ever make the pollution of their rivers acceptable.

First Nations people are not the only ones pressured to trade good water for the plasticized product.  Fracking and pipeline companies in the U.S. don’t admit that their operations may contaminate ground water and wells, but offer a solution to calm fears. Don’t worry! We’ll make you whole!  If you can prove we damaged your water, here’s a life time’s supply of water buffalos!  They really seem to not have any grasp of why anyone would feel that losing their fresh, abundant, regenerative well water would be a loss.

The substitution of an inferior product for the real thing nature provided for free isn’t surprising or new.  Within our modern ideology of productivity and progress, inherent or intrinsic value has been purposefully overshadowed by the narrowly defined “value” conveyed when something can be bought and sold.  This commodification of what was once free to all fuels corporate economic dominance and the concentration of power and wealth.  Further, by intimating that that which has not entered the market has no value, the machine invites the pillage of the commons, whether held collectively or individually, as there can be no theft where there is no value.

While this phenomenon isn’t new, it is accelerating as commodification moves into more realms integral to life, like food.  Historically, farmers saved seeds from their crops to plant the next year.  With the advent of GMO seeds in the 1990’s though, farmers had to sign contracts that they would not keep any seeds to plant – because the corporation owned the patent on them.  The green revolution and the 2006 launched Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa included the replacement of indigenous and community seed varieties that were self-perpetuating with proprietary seeds that require small farmers to buy anew each year.

The process of commodification has been on my mind throughout the covid crisis, since I noticed very early on the world-wide dominant narrative that the only way out of pandemic restrictions would be an effective vaccine.  Vaccines, obviously, are a product that is sold to us, in this case via our tax dollars, to replace natural immunity, which is part of the invisible, implicit commons, a birthright that has no monetary value.  Covid vaccine mandates, particularly, commodify natural immunity and replace it with a product we have to buy, regularly, for life.

We know now that the covid vaccines require boosters.  The U.S. just approved them for the elderly, immunocompromised and “front-line” workers.  Israel has gone so far as to classify those without their booster shot as “unvaccinated.”  These measures are being taken, ¾ of a year since the first shots began going into the first arms because vaccine efficacy in terms of infection and transmission, especially, is waning.  It’s not entirely clear whether efficacy is waning due to Sars-Cov2 mutating with the “Delta” variant or just as a matter of time.  Either way, there is every reason to believe that the trend will continue – boosters will be needed perpetually, just as they are with the flu vaccine.  Different kinds of viruses mutate at different rates.  RNA respiratory viruses, including all coronaviruses and the flu, mutate relatively quickly, whereas measles, for example, mutates slowly, making it a better candidate for control through vaccination. Flu vaccines are updated every year, and their effectiveness still wanes by 50% over the course of a single flu season. 

An obvious major benefit of vaccines compared to natural immunity is that in order to obtain natural immunity, you have to be infected, and not everyone survives the process.  However, covid risk is not distributed evenly across the population, but rather varies very strongly with age and a few comorbidities, the most important being obesity. Such differential risk should obviate mandates apriori because risk-benefit calculations should always be central to all medical decisions.  For those in high-risk categories, vaccines may indeed be the best option, but for those at low risk of severe illness, natural immunity is superior to vaccination because it is free, robust and reliable.  It also is a “limited time offer” as it is best relied upon when young and in good health as that is when our immune systems function optimally. 

Natural immunity is safer than relying on an endless stream of booster shots in several ways.  Obviously, no matter how small a risk is, as long as there is some risk, multiplying exposures through lifetime use will increase the risk.  In the case of covid boosters, each time they are reformulated to deal with mutations or tweaked for efficacy, new potential short and long term effects are possible.  Given that the original EUA’s were granted after a mere two months of follow up and 6 months down the road the placebo group had been eliminated, only an extremely naïve optimist could imagine that the safety profile will be carefully analyzed moving forward.  Also, statistically speaking, the more reformulations, the more potential for serious unexpected side effects to occur.  Repeated exposure to the ingredients in the vaccines also increases the risks for allergic reactions. We know that PEG, an ingredient in both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, causes allergic reactions in the susceptible.  Since repeated exposure to a drug can sensitize the immune system and cause allergies or make existing allergies worse, it is clear that repeated injections increase this risk.

While the covid vaccine aims to maintain efficacy in spite of mutations and waning immunity due to time through boosters, natural immunity does the same through repeated exposures to the virus over time.  In general, our immune systems have multiple parts and layers of defenses. These different parts don’t all swing into action for every threat, but rather get involved in a tiered approach.   Generalized defenses engage first, and only if those fail to neutralize the threat do more specialized defenses come into play.  Mild illness engages less of your immune system and results in a shorter period of immunity than more severe illness.  However, even though immunity wanes and viruses mutate, frequent re-exposure to a virus provides prolonged immunity.  Re-exposure provides the immune system the opportunity to “update,” refreshing immune memory for the virus and taking into account any recent mutations.  As long as the next encounter with the virus happens before immunity fades to zero, immunity may “update” to include the new mutation and set the clock back on the immunity time line while causing much milder or even eliminating symptoms compared to the initial exposure.  This carry-over protection from previous year’s respiratory viruses to new variants is called cross-reactive immunity.

Cross-reactive immunity provides protection not only for variants of a virus caused by mutation but also to related viruses.  Ninety percent of us, for example, have some cross-reactive immunity to Sars-Cov2 from exposure to related coronaviruses, which may explain why many people only experience extremely mild or even asymptomatic infections to this “novel” virus.

The long term cross-reactive protection provided by repeated exposure in natural immunity is more robust against mutations than vaccines, and also contributes more to cross-reactive immunity for “novel” related viruses (Sars-Cov3 anyone?).  Whereas the covid vaccine teaches the immune system to recognize only one aspect of Sars-Cov2 – the spike protein, the immune system learns about the whole virus through a natural infection– making it much easier to recognize similar strains.  Natural immunity will also always be there for you, unlike the boosters, which could fail to arrive due to technological, political or economic problems.  The efficacy of boosters, furthermore, will depend on how well the scientists have been able to predict mutations – a good guess will yield greater efficacy like it does for the yearly flu boosters, which are formulated anew each year in advance of flu season.  In addition to the problem that the covid vaccines involve a life long subscription to a pharmaceutical product that you may not need or want and may have side effects, they may also cause dependency, such that once you start, you may not be able to stop. 

The booster as life support could occur in two ways.  First, as mentioned, natural immunity is a limited time offer.  Each year of your life that you depend on the boosters instead of your natural immunity increases the potential that your immune system will fail to overcome Sars-Cov2 in natural infection, as youth and good health are paramount to defeating covid.  Antibody Dependent Enhancement (ADE) represents a second potential eventuality that could lead to dependence.  ADE occurs when vaccines work just well enough to train the body to recognize a virus, but not well enough to destroy it.  In this case, the immune response triggered b y the vaccine actually increases the potential of the virus to infect and sicken the host.  ADE occurs as vaccine efficacy wanes due to mutations and time and some evidence suggests it is already occurring for the covid vaccines.  Scientists warned about the potential for ADE from the beginning of the pandemic, as it has been a well-known problem in vaccine research for coronaviruses. ADE, in fact, was responsible for the previous failure of all earlier attempts to make such a vaccine. If ADE occurs you are worse off than if you never had a vaccine – which makes you more dependent on a new “improved” vaccine or other pharmaceutical because your immune system is less likely to be able to overcome the virus naturally.

from a “Future Human” article.

The commodification of our immune systems did not begin nor does it stop with the covid vaccines.  Today, multiple labs are working on covid combo vaccines, to include ALL coronaviruses and/or flu-covid combos, chillingly heralded as “one shot to rule them all.”  People in poor health, for whom the common cold could be deadly, may want these vaccines.   However, given the ubiquitous bio-security zeitgeist, might they be mandated for all?  Because coronaviruses mutate frequently and easily, it doesn’t seem likely that there could ever be a vaccine for them that could provide “sterilizing” immunity to actually prevent infection, versus just mitigate severity.  But if scientists were to accomplish this feat, coronaviruses would change for humanity from the “common cold” to deadly killers, as the vaccines would prevent the common re-exposure that make this class of viruses relatively benign.  Because coronaviruses have animal hosts and can jump to humans, they could never be eradicated and sterilizing vaccines against them would simply leave humans in perpetual pharmaceutical dependence. 

Similarly, vaccines that simply greatly decreased the number and frequency of circulating coronaviruses could have detrimental effects for those “break through” infections that did occur.  The grave consequences of preventing frequent exposure to viruses has been demonstrated recently as children throughout the world are experiencing unseasonal and especially severe respiratory viruses.  Experts are blaming “immunity debt,” or the absence of threat-induced immune system training, built up from too much isolation through 2020, as the culprit.  As news releases proclaim the promise of more and more vaccines to prevent or treat illnesses once considered mere nuisances, it would be very reassuring to see broader discussion of long term implications and complications like this.  The total absence of such discussion is very disturbing.

Governments are imposing a long term agenda on the population with vaccine mandates which could have significant effects on life as we know it, without acknowledging that they are doing so, nor clarifying the long-term implications.  This type of top down restructuring of society is a familiar consequence of commodification, often hidden in the language of “progress.”  Products are introduced at first as voluntary benefits, but they have far ranging effects on our economic, social and political structures.  These effects are exacerbated as regulations and coercive tactics replace the voluntary nature of the product. Looking back, we can see this process with the “Green Revolution.” Were the first genetically engineered seeds sold with an entire vision of corporate control of the food supply, mass urbanization, globalization, lifetime dependence on chemical inputs and multinational corporate concentration of wealth and power all written up in the language of equity and sustainability in a glossy corporate prospectus?

The saturation of known markets with traditional products means that new aspects of life need to be brought into the marketplace for the current players to maintain their empires. New “products” can be hard to spot, because we just think of them as parts of life, like DNA and our immune systems, but if we want to move in a direction we choose, rather than being herded into a corporatist future half-asleep, we need to look out for commodification.  As incredible as it may seem, people around the world are ringing alarm bells about the commodification of human beings ourselves as human capital, ripe for investments to impact our health, education, and behavior in ways that can be measured, bet on, bought and sold in human capital bond markets.  Look for these themes in future blog posts on the Great Reset and the Fourth Industrial Revolution but if you want to know more now, this blog and this blog provide great introductions.

Mask Memes

Memes about masks on social media are like a lever that increases the toxic divisiveness so prevalent in the US today.  Some common themes that criticize so called “anti-maskers” do nothing but make people angrier at each other and solidify feelings of in-group membership, dampening the critical thinking and compassion and tolerance for others our society so desperately needs. 

One idea iconized in memes is the idea that people don’t want to wear masks out of an immature, politicized notion of freedom and liberty.  A second idea is that people object to masks merely because they are inconvenient, in the same way that wearing shoes and a shirt into a restaurant at the beach could be inconvenient.  A final predominant theme is that people don’t want to wear masks because they are selfish and don’t even care about something as important as other people’s lives.  Many memes manage to convey all three of these ideas in a few sentences.  These memes paint a deeply negative picture of a person who can’t be bothered to do a simple thing to save lives, no doubt due to being duped by fools on TV.

Now, I’m willing to concede that there are all kinds of people out there, including selfish, stupid people who can’t be bothered to do even the simplest things for even the most important reasons.  However, I have not met any of them and I have met many thoughtful, caring people whom I may have once ignorantly labeled.  I have learned to be suspect of jumping to the conclusion that people fit into any such tiny boxes.  In general, for all issues, people may SOUND outrageously ignorant or narrow-minded because they haven’t thought everything through, or because they lack the emotional or intellectual ability in the moment to articulate well.  When people are frustrated, they may react angrily or rely on the repetition of mindless slogans, but it is a mistake to assume that the position itself is captured by what you may see in the moment (especially when this moment is captured on video and repeated in every corporate media outlet as though it is representative.)

The crux of the issue is that people who think masks are a mere inconvenience or not even that believe that they are saving lives.  If they didn’t believe that, they would be more conscious of the evolutionary and cultural significance of breath and speech to life and freedom. For example, think about how these masks strike you.

Not only are the handmaids in Margaret Atwood’s tale as imagined for Hulu gagged (with masks not as restrictive as the ones we are asked to wear for Covid – her nose is showing!) their mouths are literally wired shut so they cannot speak.

As this piece on the episode that reveals this new control tactic states:

“[In D.C.], fertile women have their voices literally ripped from them as a sign of servitude to the totalitarian regime… The handmaids take “a vow of silence that’s enforced by a physical ring on the mouth,” [series creator] Miller says. The image of women in red handmaid’s uniforms unable to speak serves as a harsh reminder of the extent to which whatever is left of …  rights can still be stripped. “Like so many things, the intention is first it’s voluntary, then it’s encouraged, then it becomes required,” Miller says. “

It takes serious double think to deny the deeply disturbing nature of these ideas and imagery.  Even though the handmaids in the story have their mouths physically wired shut, the creator points out that it started as a voluntary vow of silence.  I’m sure they thought they had a good reason – as “vessels of fertility” in a dystopian infertile world, such a vow could be viewed as a public health measure, as indeed the entire concept of the handmaids is.  And even though other handmaids, like the main character of the series, can speak through their masks, the point of the mask is to symbolize subjugation and silence.  While obviously people can and do speak through Covid masks, they do make it harder to speak due to breath restriction (try giving a lecture) and to hear others.   The most important point, though, is that if the symbolism shown in the story was not real for our culture and widely felt, it would not work for “entertainment.”

Similarly, for muslim women who sincerely feel that covering their faces is appropriate for modesty or another reason, veiling may be an inconvenience.  The rest of us, however, imagining our selves in her place, see a covered woman as a sign of oppression. 

Because I do not believe that masks save others’ lives (we’ll get to that soon), I feel about mask mandates the same way I would feel if our government demanded I wear hijab.  If you didn’t believe masks worked, that’s how you would feel too.

Here’s another important image – this one from the MET Gala this past week:

Notice how she is wearing a dress about equal rights, maskless, while a row of servants behind her in plain black wear masks.  The woman is a representative from New York, a state with some of the most restrictive Covid measures, including a vaccine passport in NYC.  This scene of decision makers breathing freely while those with less power are masked was repeated throughout the gala, and in fact throughout the pandemic

Not everyone has read reams of opinions and research articles on masks, as I have, to come to the conclusion that masks don’t work.  But people who can’t point to studies feel these images I’ve posted above viscerally.  They feel the hypocrisy and control, which is very real, even if they cannot or do not articulate it.  Their feelings are not a result of stupidity – they are from being in touch with their bodies, their intuition, their inner voice -something I believe our culture needs a lot more of and should not be mocked. 

I don’t want to convince you that masks don’t work to control the spread of Covid, as no matter what facts I post, counter facts can be found.  I want to make the point very clearly that if you believe masks work and that they should be mandated, the onus is on you to read as much as you can, not on me to prove anything to you.  It is you that wants to force others to comply to your beliefs.  I am not interested in forcing anyone to comply to my beliefs.  Another meme:

This meme conveys the false idea that people opposing mask mandates have an interest in keeping other people from wearing masks.   That idea nicely obscures the imbalance in the two “sides” positions – that we are both pushing our views on others. 

However, if you would like to see for yourself why I don’t believe masks are important for public health, please know that masks have never been shown to contain viruses (except for medical-grade PPE like fitted respirators), including the flu, they don’t do anything in surgery, and cannot stop aerosol transmission.  Yes, given these facts, one can indeed wonder why medical professionals who don’t vaccinate for the flu are forced to wear masks and why surgeons still wear masks in surgery.  Please see here, here, here and here for good overviews of mask research.  But don’t believe the websites I’ve posted!  Click the links and read the sources they point to.  And, while I’d truly love to hear thought out or well founded disagreement in the comments, before you bring up the new Bangladesh study, read this and this.

Also, a brief note that the science regarding masks benefit to limit spread can by no means decide the entire issue of whether mask mandates are warrented.  All policies should be weighed for benefits versus costs.  The harms I’ve discussed here regarding masks (the diminishment of personhood and the psychological and real subjugation) are the tip of the iceberg of the harms of mask wearing, especially for children.  If interested, see overviews here and here.

Again, I have no desire to convince you to stop wearing a mask.  But, will you join me in making an effort to think before posting memes of the “other side” that present a caricature of the issues?  Memes that only function to sow greater division, make fun of people, and make it harder for people to dissent for fear of being seen like THOSE people? I used to post memes like that myself, but really try to catch myself now. 

Garden Rebound

You want to know something funny?  I wrote this post in April of last year, anticipating a new garden season with great pleasure.  It turned out to be the worst garden I’ve had since I called myself a gardener. Throughout the summer I shook my head every time I thought about that essay – who did I think I was?  Obviously I knew nothing about gardening, let alone enough to philosophize about it!  I could not keep a single cucumber nor winter squash plant alive long enough to bear fruit.  My pepper plants withered.  The eggplants only produced from a second planting in mid July, the okra was stunted and blight hit the tomatoes earlier than usual.

Nearly a year and a half later, I cannot suppress the corners of my mouth from turning up when I think about my mortification.   In response to my garden’s depleted output, I tried a lot of things throughout last summer.  I tried to hand pick and trap the hordes of cucumber beetles, squash beetles and squash vine borers to no avail.  A friend suggested nasturtiums as a valuable squash pest deterring companion plant, so I planted as many of them as I could, but it was too late.  They bloomed in October in a nearly empty garden.  I took mulch off and put it on.   I started new seeds over and over, and bought all kinds of seedlings.  I added organic fertilizers around new seedlings and plants that seemed to need it, just to have some kind of critter dig them up to eat the fertilizer. Towards the end of the summer, I planted daikon radishes in a bunch of the beds, hoping they would grow, rot the next spring, and break up what seemed to suddenly be deeply compacted, heavy soil.

As our garden is on a slope in a hollow in the shadow of the Blue Ridge nearly as low as you can get without being in the floodplain, it’s a funnel for many square miles of rain run off.  It was a very rainy spring and summer last year and we had foolishly tilled when it was too wet. It had rained so much last year through April and May that I decided on my own time table versus reality’s that we had waited long enough.  Usually, we don’t till at all because we don’t want to disrupt the soil microorganisms and we want to protect the soil structure but it seemed so much easier to till than to pull up all the weeds in the beds (which wouldn’t have been there if I had mulched deeply enough over the winter). 

Fast forward to this spring.  The radishes grew and rotted, we did not till, and it was a much drier spring and it has been a very dry summer.  We covered the beds with the litter from our chicken run before planting and did not fertilize at all afterwards to thwart the hungry digging mammal.   I also planted many more seeds directly in the garden, instead of transplanting, to help them adapt to difficult conditions.  I tried a new variety of zucchini, which I have never grown successfully, in the hopes it would out maneuver the vine borer, and many new varieties of peppers and eggplants. 

So many surprises! The nasturtiums I planted last year had gone to seed, and they sprouted early everywhere.  The chicken litter had viable pumpkin seeds from a gorgeous reddish orange variety a friend gave us last year.  I let the volunteers grow, assuming they weren’t likely to get far, but they did! The green of the widespread foliage this year spilling out of the beds is interspersed with brightly colored 2 foot plus diameter pumpkins, many yellow and orange nasturtium blooms, and big bright yellow squash flowers.  I have unbelievable numbers of butternut and spaghetti squash too! Cucumbers fill the fridge.  Eggplants, peppers, okra, green beans, tomatoes – check, check, check!  But the best has been the zucchini.  I planted it because it was supposed to have a “leaping” habit, where one plant spreads from another.  One plant spawns “babies,” which lead to other “babies”, which continue and produce, even as earlier “parents” get killed off by pests.  I keep thinking the zucchini is done, only to find another fruit bearing plant hidden among the sprawling winter squash.

I ‘m loving the increased chaos, wildness and color of the garden this summer.  I also feel intrigued and appreciative of the whole experience, the cycle of lack and plenty of this summer and last.  Clearly, the different weather patterns and tilling were major differences, but we’ve had equally super wet summers before.  I feel closer to this bit of earth in my backyard than I have. I understand more about its unique conditions within the greater context of unpredictable weather conditions.  I can’t control the weather or my garden’s intrinsic nature, but I can respond to its needs in a fine tuned way with greater attention to current conditions, patience, and knowledge of what works here and doesn’t.   These seasons illustrate the dynamic nature of the gardener garden relationship in a way that speaks to me about the difference between mechanical and living systems.  Powerful players are pushing ever more to increase what they call the “sustainability” of food production by measuring, monitoring, and precisely controlling inputs through machine learning (AI algorithms). 

I’ve only lived here for 7 years, and only really seen massive fluctuations in my garden in the last two years, teaching me what it needs.  How much more knowledge would generations of farmers on the same bit of land have about their place? While machines aim to model the farmers’ knowledge (and replace them), they will only ever be able to incorporate a fixed set of variables or conditions and responses.  The more I creatively engage with my garden, my effort as much a part of it as the soil, the more I know that there is nothing “sustainable” about replacing farmers with machines.  The garden taught me this and it will teach anyone who listens.

Gardening is Like Parenting

I’m one of those people who could always easily answer the question: do you plan to have children?  “Of course!” I’d say, though when pressed for reasons for my certainty, I was more circumspect.  I felt like children were part of life, an experience not to be missed, like finding a partner, having a career, growing old.  Nevertheless, after the decision had been made, and pregnancy occurred, I was very conscious of a feeling of jumping off a cliff, blindfolded.   Yet, I had faith in my ability to adapt, learn and persevere.  Now my sons are older teens, and you’ll be happy to know that I have, indeed, managed. 

Gardening is a lot like parenting.  In both cases, we start out as newborns ourselves, bereft of experience, yet empowered to work with the force of life itself.  When we look at our children, we see living, beautiful beings.  We know that our efforts and sacrifice to raise them, usually so great as to have permanently and sharply divided the universe into “before” and “after,” have in no way solely produced this outcome.  In the same way, gardening can feel nearly miraculous, as we realize the limits of our control and power.  We plant seeds and they come up! Flower buds develop and then open! Insects pollinate!  Rain falls! The vegetables’ colors deepen into rich reds, purples, and greens – a feast for the eyes and how much more so for the mouth!  Gardening gives great joy as we witness first hand perfection far beyond our labor, intense as it may be. 

Like parenting, you don’t have to garden perfectly, or even well; you just need to do it well enough.  I really wouldn’t want to meet a parent that never made a mistake – I’m afraid they would be an alien or robot rather than a human.  How often does a parent lose their temper or their patience? Fail to pay attention at a critical moment? Say the wrong thing or the right thing at the wrong time?  Children thrive or at worst, survive, in the face of a litany of parental failure.   In the same way, gardening can be closer to an endless misadventure than to perfection, yet still the miracle persists.  Fruits will grow even when there is not enough sun.   You may water too much or too little.  You may plant too close together or fail to support your vegetables enough.  Fortunately, gardening is very forgiving, as long as you can forgive yourself enough to persevere.  

Books and blogs on parenting tell you to focus on your connection with your child, first and foremost.   Similarly, there is no gardening knowledge that can replace your connection to your garden.  Gardening is very forgiving, but correcting your mistakes before, for example, your plant dies, requires that you notice that it’s doing poorly.  Connection is also essential to manage the curve balls nature throws like storms, pests, and diseases.  I like to look at every plant in my garden every day.  I notice the plant’s color, its “posture” or tone (firm and flimsy in the right places), and how close vegetables are to ripeness.   I look for pests and beneficial insects.  As I walk through the rows, I make mental notes of too many weeds here, needs watering, thinning or fertilizer there.  I imagine empty spaces where plants past their time sit and plan to start new seeds to replace them.  I envision delicious meals I’ll make with the produce coming soon.  My thoughts and imagination flow effortlessly with time and experience.   In the beginning, I used to just enjoy walking through the garden each morning or sitting with coffee and admiring the freshness, the colors, the buzzing, and the life.   

When you have your first child, you can’t imagine the ways that squalling imp will change your life or how much you have to learn.   As they grow, and you do your best through exhaustion and frustration, you may even think at times that you are working so hard for them.  But like so much else in life, it’s in the giving that we get, and the treasures for our own growth shine deep in the parenting box of tricks.   Gardening is like that – full of spiritual, psychological and physical rewards through the sweat.  While I used to bemoan the anxiety I felt wondering if my seeds would sprout, now I recognize the invitation from Mother Nature to trust and relax.  She has never let me down, only invited me deeper into the co-creation inherent in gardening.  I’ve harvested plenty of food from my garden, but the most fulfilling harvest has been a greater understanding of our relationship, one that clearly extends beyond the garden.  To get the good fruit, whether in parenting, a garden, or life itself, it takes a willingness to act, albeit imperfectly, with faith and intention, and a strong connection and presence to discern direction, alter course and fix mistakes.   And the fruit IS good.