“Dad’s eyes danced. His grin held happiness…hope. ‘We’re home!’ he announced. Mom stared out the pickup window. Silent. Lifeless…Tufts of skinny grass and small grayish green bushes surrounded us. The land lay flat in every direction as far as I could see.”
Helen Lingscheit Heavirland spent her early years in western Oregon’s beautiful woods, where her father Wayne Lingscheit’s work as a logger provided a comfortable home. But Wayne dreamed of farming, and Columbia Basin Project irrigation opened a new opportunity. In 1954 he and his wife Gladys moved their family—seven-year-old Helen, baby Hazel, thirteen-year-old Frank, and sixteen-year-old Emma—to raw land in Pasco, Washington, that was mostly bunchgrass and sagebrush. The only structures were a roofless outhouse, an eight-foot by sixteen-foot wooden shack, and a pen for sheep and goats.
In Surviving the Sand, Helen shares her family’s hardscrabble yet heartwarming story, chronicling common hardships many faced in the Columbia Basin Project’s early settlement days. She describes breaking sod, plants destroyed by wind-whipped sand, and a harrowing first winter sleeping outside after a storm shredded their tent, but also simple joys like fresh apricots, Crokinole games, and letters from loved ones. Most of all, she relates how—despite the heartache, arduous work, and tough times—her family loves, laughs, and works together as they chase her father’s seemingly impossible dream.
“Helen Heavirland has given us a gift of grit and wit wrapped in Inspiration in Surviving the Sand. Her memoir reads like a novel with its passion and pace. It’s a treasure of history and a family’s faith-filled hope that you’ll long remember. I know I will.”—Jane Kirkpatrick, New York Times best-selling author of Homestead
“Entertaining and engaging…This memoir has a great deal to contribute to rural women’s studies and to our knowledge about agriculture beginnings associated with this project.”—Tracey Hanshew, Assistant Professor, WSU Tri-Cities Department of History, author of Oklahoma Rodeo Women
“You really come away feeling that this family never gave up hope…While there might be other stories like this, I doubt they are told as well. I’ll have a new appreciation for just what it took to create this ‘Irrigated Eden.’”—Keith C. Petersen, former Idaho State Historian and Associate Director of the Idaho State Historical Society, author of John Mullan and Company Town
“Heavirland recounts in vivid prose the trials and triumphs of twentieth century pioneering and how a family’s overcoming spirit contributed to a thriving rural community.”—Richard D. Scheuerman, author of Harvest Heritage and Palouse Country: A Land and It’s People
For ages 10 and up
Illustrations / 224 pages (2022)
ISBN 978-1-63864-004-2 Paperback
Watch Helen’s interview on Blue Mountain Television! (She starts at 06:31)