#SOL20 Day 27 “Hot”

SOL20This March I will be participating in the montOld Friend from Far Awayh-long Slice of Life Challenge. Each day I will be posting a ‘slice’ from my life. This year I am using Natalie Goldberg’s book Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir to provide my sparks for memoir writing. Each post will be a quick write using one of Natalie’s exercises to practice the skill of noticing and remembering.



When I was a young teen, one of the few jobs we could legally be hired for was on a farm. So for several weeks each summer, my siblings and I would work on a detasseling crew.  Our job was to walk rows of  corn and pull off the tassels in all but the pollinating row so they could create hybrid seed corn. If you’ve never heard of this, you probably aren’t from the Midwest. Anyone who has done it can attest to the excruciating work conditions. I couldn’t wait to turn 16 so I could get hired for an air-conditioned job! The irony wasn’t lost on me that child labor laws meant to protect us, only allowed us to work some of the hardest (and hottest) jobs on the planet!

9 thoughts on “#SOL20 Day 27 “Hot”

  1. Such great language – farmland furnace, oil-sprayed dirt road, sweat begins to pool, predawn air, no breezes kiss my face – just great word choice to pull the reader in. I ave never heard of detasseling crews, but I am familiar with stacking the hayloft with bales of straw and even heavier – bales of hay. The bales bound with wire are painful after working for an hour to grab, toss, and/or stack. And pieces stick to your sweaty skin – very itchy. Haylofts can be very stuffy places in summer. If you are lucky, you won’t find any snake skins (snakes shed their skin and finding it can be unnerving!) on any of the bales you stack. Wow! Paula, I just realized I could post about this. Great prompts and great responses from you! I enjoyed reading this.

    1. Oh, those haylofts were stuffy and dusty. Hot and hard to breathe. I’m sure they were ridden with rats as well, but we loved playing in them! Paid for it with scratched up limbs, though!

  2. Clever phrasing in “we stalk through the rows plucking tassels.” I lived in Iowa two years in the mid-1980s, do I know about detasseling corn. Brutal work. Those midwestern, humid summer days are like being in a fiery, sticky furnace, but the hottest place I’ve been is Yuma, Arizona. I lived there six years as a young teacher. I often tell people the mildest summers and winters I’ve experienced are here in Idaho.

  3. Your word choice made me feel like I was in those fields alongside you. I was uncomfortable, hot, itchy, and anxious as I read on. I am a New Englander through and through so this job that you describe is completely foreign to me. Thanks for sharing your hottest experience!

    The hottest place for me was Florence, Italy in June during an early, unexpected heat wave. Gah!

  4. Wow, that’s a job I didn’t know existed! I’ve picked apples in New Zealand and wine grapes in Australia, but that sounds awful. I love your description of the intensity of the heat just building and building. I do know all about heat, so I think it might be something to slice about tomorrow, thanks!!

  5. I agree that your word choice draws the reader in to experience detasseling. “Crispy, crackly, cotton that will soon be soaked with sweat” is vivid imagery and alliteration. For me, “hot” would bring me back to the days of working at a Chinese restaurant at the food court. That steam table was no joke! Have a great weekend!

  6. Farmland furnace brought back memories of the summer I worked for the Youth Conservation Corps. We cleared land and sweated buckets. One question: Do you write like this on first draft? I love your descriptive language.

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