Backing up to Days 161-163: icy Kansas City downtime…

My last backtracking journal entry ended with a nighttime icestorm on our drive from Oklahoma to Kansas City and the home of some friends of Mark’s parents. We had no sooner rolled out of the car (in which we had been roasting with the defrost on full-blast to melt the freezing wildshield) and onto the newly iced driveway, when I felt my back go OUT with me. This, I thought, will be perfect for the next few days of driving and interviews…

I shuffled into the foyer of our homestay and left my wet shoes by the door as we met our host, inwardly bemoaning my state of brokenness, and outwardly excusing myself right to bed to fall asleep in my clothes (as has become quite common for me since we conceived). I awoke before the sun and stumbled fast to the nearest bathroom, (also quite common) and saw through the window… ice covering everything… every blade of grass and every twig and leaf glazed in ice, anything that had held still long enough to get covered… including, I saw, our Hairy-Eared Dwarf Lemur mascot, frozen to the hood of our car. (Harry normally rides on the dash of Rachel Carson but Ben had decided Hairy needed to build character and so Harry got left out on the hood overnight.) Then, in the middle of my quiet reverie in the loo, I sneezed, and it was like somebody stuck a knife in my spine. The second sneeze nearly put my lights out. I think it is safe to say that i experienced some light road trip panic in those moments- a bit of How crazy is this road trip and What am i even doing?

When i joined everyone for breakfast, I sheepishly announced my disappointing back problem and then went ahead and spilled the beans about the pregnancy, too, since Tom, our host, started offering Tylenol and things that developing babies can’t take. He was thrilled about the good news and graciously offered to show me some meditation and breathing exercises for my back and to help to de-stress. I must say, they were very helpful (Thank you, Tom).

It was, I think, equally helpful that our interviews for the next couple days were hosed due to the icestorm. That, coupled with no internet for the first couple of days, forced us to just sit and BE, and for me to breathe, relax and HEAL. We were really bummed about possibly missing our on the Land Institute in Salina but we got some beautiful b-roll of still icy Kansas and during these couple of days we really got to spend time with our newfound KC family and share ideas about how to be new revolutionaries!

Tom had voluntarily worked in Vietnam in the late 60’s in refugee camps, and he told us amazing stories. We watched a documentary film called Hearts and Minds about the Vietnam War on which Tom took the film crew to the Vietnamese people and served as translator – we could hear him in the background of the film translating questions into Vietnamese. He wanted to know if we thought that Americans had learned from Vietnam. We found ourselves wondering the same thing. Food for thought.

I’ll go into more detail later re: what we saw in Kansas but I will say here that I never could remember whether we were KC Kansas or KC Missouri, so everything in Kansas City is all a giant KC in my mind (apologies to the purists). That said, we went to a village sustainability meeting with Tom where villagers expressed frustration with the town’s seeming inability to agree on adding a recycling drop-off spot.

Ben reconnected with his Kansas City childhood when we found Marty Flowers. Marty has a yard that is probably best described as a wild place, in the best possible way. There is an entrance at the corner of Marty’s yard – a threshold which announces it as an “Urban Wilderness.” Marty told us how he can’t count the number of times he’s been sued for having an “unkept yard.” After we chatted with him about the whys of letting a yard grow its own way, Marty took us to a Kansas City sustainability meeting – which was anything BUT frustrated, and which led us to one of our most interesting interviewees to date – an incredible architect and gentleman named Bob Berkowitz, who we’ll get to next time, i promise… The enthusiasm and, more importantly, the confidence and even expectation that change is on its way was quite compelling.

I’ll stop for now but just have to say that one of the very best things about this trip is the people who have invited us to come into their homes and share their space and their food and their thoughts and their habits with us and, also, their encouragement. Thank you, people, any and all of you who have kept us so far. Thank you very very much.

to be continued…

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