Looking ahead to the "Tractors..." sequel.
When Zea was six years old her family moved from Fairview to Enid. When she was nine they moved to Inman, twelve to Guyman, fifteen to Okeene. When she was eighteen they moved to Salina, while Zea went to the City to train on combines and from there to apprenticing with Durum and traveling the length and breadth of the district, cutting and planting and moving with the seasons.
She’s never stayed in one place long enough to put down roots, doesn’t really see much point. The way Lucerne tells it though, the land used to matter, back before the Dark Days. Used to be folks out in the depots’d trace back generations on the same piece, knew every tree and rock on every quarter section, walked the fields when the wheat was young and crumbled the soil in their hands.
It’s a strange thing to think about, fifteen feet off the ground in a stuffy combine cab. Only dirt Zea sees is the dust that settles gritty on her sweaty skin, sticks in her boots, turns to tire-sucking mud if they get rain while they’re trying to cut.
She tells Lucerne all this, and the old woman smiles, blue eyes faraway. “You’ll see,” Lucerne says, a dream and a promise. “It’s different when the land is yours.”
Zea’s skeptical, but she looks around at the little camp, the shelters dug into the riverbank where the hovercraft can’t see them, their little crew drying out in the sun after last night’s storm. It’s not much, but it’s theirs, and maybe Lucerne is right. Lucerne usually is.