He could remember a time in his early childhood when a large number of things were still known by his family name. There was a Zhivago factory, a Zhivago bank, Zhivago buildings, a Zhivago necktie pin, even a Zhivago cake which was a kind of baba au rhum, and at one time if you said "Zhivago" to your sleigh driver in Moscow, it was as if you had said: "Take me to Timbuctoo!" and he carried you off to a fairy-tale kingdom. You would find yourself transported to a vast, quiet park. Crows settled on the heavy branches of firs, scattering the hoarfrost; their cawing echoed and reechoed like crackling wood. Pure-bred dogs came running across the road out of the clearing from the recently constructed house. Farther on, lights appeared in the gathering dusk.
And then suddenly all that was gone. They were poor.
One day in the summer of 1903, Yura was driving across fields in a two-horse open carriage with his Uncle Nikolai. They were on their way to see Ivan Ivanovich Voskoboinikov, a teacher and author of popular textbooks, who lived at Duplyanka, the estate of Kologrivov, a silk manufacturer, and a great patron of the arts.
It was the Feast of the Virgin of Kazan. The harvest was in full swing but, whether because of the feast or because of the midday break, there was not a soul in sight. The half-reaped fields under the glaring sun looked like the half-shorn heads of convicts. Birds were circling overhead. In the hot stillness the heavy-eared wheat stood straight. Neat sheaves rose above the stubble in the distance; if you stared at them long enough they seemed to move, walking along on the horizon like land surveyors taking notes.