The estate steward waved his hand.
“Forget it. Grazing rights are for household heads only.”
Anna went home, discouraged. He might not consider her a householder, but the responsibilities were hers. Especially, she worried about the land. She did not want to do the hoeing and gleaning she usually did on the large estate because she had to harvest her own vegetables and potatoes, but the employer sent word that if she didn’t work on this harvest, she couldn’t work on the next one either. So she went with Esther slung on her back, a little bag of poppy seeds in her mouth to quiet her, and Stevie trailing behind. Then all day Sunday she had to pull her own potatoes, terrified of the first frost. She strung up the peppers and the onions, and Stevie clapped to see the kitchen all decorated with them. By the time she got ready to pickle the cucumbers, most had rotted.
Her greatest comfort during those early months came from the pink postcards coming from Joska. Their arrival was irregular, but the contents were reassuringly the same. He would ask about her health and tell her that his was good. He reported that the weather was cold and rainy, the food poor, and from time to time, he would mention meeting a fellow from his own village. He was on the Russian front. Galicia, he said, is ugly and flat. He never forgot to send his regards to all he knew and to commend her and her children to God’s care. Anna sometimes wondered why he didn’t speak of battles won or lost, but so long as he said he was well, the cards made her happy.
—Chapter 16. Waiting (1915)