During the wheat harvest of 1977, when Betty was thirty-two and Arnie forty-five, Betty drove every evening from her full-time job as a subpoena officer at the Sedgwick County courthouse in downtown Wichita to Arnie’s farm. She took over the house, cooking for Arnie and his field help, driving tubs of fried chicken, paper plates, and jugs of iced tea to fields where yellow dust followed red combines. She learned the blowing dirt of the country summer, when teeth turn gritty in the wind and shower water turns brown between shoulders and toes. She rode the combine with Arnie, a rite of passage for any would-be farmer’s wife, and woke up the next morning with clogged sinuses. She sweated through the harvest nights of midsummer, when fans blow hot air through hot bedrooms and sleep is possible only because of how hard you worked.

~ Sarah Smarsh, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

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  1. that is one well-crafted piece of writing –

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Blimey; I suddenly have dust particles everywhere, in my eyes, nose, mouth, I can’t breathe any more (asthma), experience a parched throat, I am exhausted, so much, I wanna die right here and know, I CAN’T….
    This is such a gripping short lecture – well, just read what Beth has written, I agree totally – and I KNOW it’s true because I’ve seen it and experienced, a long, long time ago – from (sort of) afar, but my asthma and hay fever stems from similar work I did as a 13yr old when I helped Swiss farmers on their farm (no big harvesters then of course and anyway, CH is too small for them), I have seen and driven past them when travelling in Canada and the USA, I’m reading a lot in American litterature….
    Sorry, need to stop and drink some water….

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow, does THIS take me back to my childhood….


  4. This book is coming to me via Overdrive and I look forward to reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow. Her writing is sublime… sigh… another to add to my wish list…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Still in search of a good book to settle with this fall!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Multitudes grew up in a house they could no longer afford.

    Liked by 1 person

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