I am not going to write much tonight, because we’re leaving tomorrow afternoon…and (but of course!) we’re not all the way packed. I had a lovely breakfast date with my grandma this morning, though, and that started a train of thought that needs to keep on rollin’.

So, Gram told me that when she was my age, no one would have thought it possible for young women to take a road trip like we’re about to take. She thinks it’s great that we’re doing it, but she couldn’t think of anything in her past that compared. We kept talking, however. And it turns out that when she was ten, she and her recently-widowed mom drove a Model A Ford from Birmingham, Alabama, to their new home in Los Angeles. They even stopped at a relative’s ranch in Texas on the way, she told me. “Hmm,” I thought. “Road trip!

Road tripping across the generations

Karen and Gram: Road tripping across the generations

True, the personal and cultural contexts for my grandma and great-grandma’s journey in the mid-1930s were radically different from the ones in which we’re embarking. But I like to find the similarities between apparently dissimilar things–finding ways to fit them together. And along those parallel lines, here’s my thinking:

That was the Depression Era, and there weren’t too many years between Gram and Nana’s road trip and the Victory Gardens of World War II. We’re currently in the midst of the worst recession since, and I can see the food self-sufficiency movement heading in the same direction: a garden in every yard! (I just hope we don’t need continued armed conflict to bolster the movement’s sense of urgency.)

In any case, Isabel and I are heading out to see what people are doing with their spaces nationwide. To see firsthand, and hear from friends and family, the effects of the present state of economic affairs, and to begin to consider alternatives–with a focus on urban ag, although not an exclusive one–for ourselves and those close to us. It’s a project that will in all likelihood take years, not weeks, to wrap up.

Independence Gardens "Tomato Tree"

Independence Gardens "Tomato Tree"

I’m especially looking forward to seeing what tomorrow’s drive to Spokane and visit with my talented artist cousin Annie brings. (Back in the day, she designed our “Tomato Tree” logo!) I’m thankful that my conversation with Gram today gave me a chance to start considering the past(s) that make the present possible, and the connections between then and now.

And now that I’m thinking…we’re going to start driving.