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U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Many 'WHY's and One Alaskan Village

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Why do we love old villages so much? Do they remind us about our barefooted childhood?
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Why do we love to see old houses?
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Are we curious about who used to live in them and where those people came from?
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Why do we love old grey buildings, half-collapsed and leaning on one side?
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Are we afraid that one day when we come they won't be there?
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Why do we love old boats whose final landing is surrounded by grasses and wildflowers? Do they tell us about the hard work, sweat and bravery of the people who used to take them to the rough seas?
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Why do we love to get off the main highway and follow a side road?
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Do we hope to find something unknown that will stir our curiosity like that white three-bar cross on one of the buildings?
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Why do we love to climb up? Are we eager to see what lies below?
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Why do we like to follow an unknown path?
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Do we get excited when something appears on the line separating the earth from the sky?
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Do we hope to see something special on the top of the hill?
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The village name is Ninilchik.
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Before Europeans arrived in Alaska, Ninilchik was a Dena'ina Athabaskan lodging area which was used for hunting and fishing.
The first people who would permanently stay in the village moved here from Kodiak Island (the second largest island in the U. S. and the 80th largest island in the world), in 1847 before the purchase of Alaska. They were Russian Grigorii Kvasnikov(Kvasnikoff), his Russian-Alutiiq wife, Mavra Rastorguev, and their children. Their dialect of Russian (plus a few words borrowed from Alaskan native languages) was the primary language spoken in Ninilchik long after the purchase of Alaska by the U.S. in 1896. A few speakers of the Ninilchik Russian dialect were still alive in 2008, including one married couple who continued to speak the language to each other.
The 1880 United States Census listed 53 "Creoles" living in Ninilchik in nine extended families. All nine founding families of Ninilchik are descendants of the Kvasnikoffs and Alaskan Natives.
I talked to the owner of a gift shop in Ninilchik, and she told me that there are 22 families that still live in the old part of the village on a year around basis.
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As for Kodiak Island, where the fist Ninilchik' permanent residents came from, it was explored in 1763 by Russian fur trader Stephan Glotov. The island was the location of the first permanent Russian settlement in Alaska founded by Grigory Shelikhov, a fur trader, on Three Saints Bay in 1784. The settlement was moved to the site of present-day Kodiak in 1792 and became the center of Russian fur trading.
The Orthodox church on the top of the hill is Transfiguration of Our Lord Church.
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What about the three-bar cross? The short bar on the top represents the sign that was placed on the cross which read, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" . The middle bar, the longest, is the bar upon which Our Lord's arms were stretched and nailed. The bottom bar is the footrest which supported Our Lord's body. While many people popularly refer to this cross as a "Russian" cross, it actually predates the Christianization of Russia in 988 AD, although generally, in earlier depictions of the Crucifixion, the bottom bar is horizontal rather than angled. Very early depictions of the crucifixion, even those originating in Egypt, generally portray the triple bar cross. In certain parts of Central and Eastern Europe, the triple bar cross with a slanted footrest indicates that a given church is an Orthodox one, while a triple bar cross with a horizontal footrest indicates that a given church is a Byzantine Rite, or Greek Catholic, one.
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Credits:Wikipedia, Orthodox Church in America http://www.oca.org
My last year post with photographs of another Russian church in Alaska is here Plants Around a Church
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Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

28 comments:

  1. What a beautiful place and how remote ! My zone 9 wimpiness makes it impossible for me to imagine what winters must be like there-I've enjoyed all your photos from Alaska !

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  2. The views are awesome and a wonderful commentary of history. I never new there was a 3-bar cross. This is the first time I see it and there are so many here.

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  3. Hello Tatyana,

    These are really beautiful and nostalgic pictures. I really love old houses too. Actually I think it's really a shame that more and more modern, strictly square houses are built. They just don't have the same atmosphere as the older, more cozy houses. The background story about the old houses and the first inhabitants of the village are also very interesting.

    Best,
    Anette

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  4. A beautiful post Tatyana, and I personally admit to being fascinated by old leaning barn buildings. I think it's the sense of wonder, of history, of intrigue, and wishing that somehow these old buildings could tell us their story of the people and events they've seen over the years.

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  5. I do love old buildings, and if they are deserted, I wonder at what stories they can tell of previous residents. I enjoyed your photos very much :-)

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  6. This Place is right out of the "dreamtime" - thank you very much for sharing!

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  7. Why do we get off the highway? Because then we can stop, to walk, to look, to take pictures. To blog about, me too ;-)
    Thanks for explaining the Greek and Russian crosses, and their even earlier roots.
    And the onion domes? What is that about?

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  8. Hi Tatyana,

    I particularly love seeing old disused industrial buildings, there's something so symbolic of them, so many people spending their lives in there to earn for their famlies.
    And although some class them as eyesores, I do feel they have a very important place in society, similar to the disused homes. Something which connects us with our past, and although standards of living are generally much higher, we are still want the same from life.

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  9. Beautiful and romantic. I just left a long resopons on Carol's blog Flower Hill Farm to you Tatyana about your comment about vaccines you might find it informative and interesting.

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  10. Hi Tatyana, What beautiful, enigmatic photos. What I kept thinking was, these are the plants that can survive such brutal winter temperatures. Yes, I'm a gardener to the core. :)

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  11. Oooh. Ninilchik is a cute little town. Those old Russian Orthodox places are neat - especially the graves. There is great clamming along the beach. That's only four hours from my house! You should come up to the Mat Su Valley.

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  12. A very beautiful post about Alaska! My impression of Alaska is always snow-covered :) Love those old houses surrounded by wide flowers. That three bar cross information is very interesting and informational. Enjoy your vacation!

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  13. Hi Tatyana! Thanks for the tour and the tale of the village. Fascinating - Alaska always seems to me as far and as different from us as any place can be... Jack

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  14. Russian Orthodox Church...interesting...my grand parents belonged to one in Jersey City.
    Old villages make me wonder what their lives were like...sure it wasn't easy.

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  15. Hi Tatyana,
    So glad you're enjoying your Alaskan vacation again this year. It is beyond beautiful there! In all these photos I'm in awe of the greenery and flowers after being blanketed with snow for so many months. Thanks for the history on the 3-bar crosses. I don't think I've ever seen one. What a quaint little church... I LOVE taking photos of churches and villages and old buildings too. Thanks for the tour of these. Have fun!
    Meems

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  16. What a beautiful place. I love old buildings, of all sorts. What stories they could tell....

    I never heard the story of the 3-bar cross. Another thing learned from a garden blogger.

    Continue the fun, on your trip.

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  17. What a beautiful village! Old homes are so romantic. I always wonder about the past inhabitants and imagine what their stories might be. Thanks for an excellent post, Tatyana!

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  18. I am so glad I made it here to see this wonderful post! I loved the breathtaking photos, the captions, and the information.

    Thanks for sharing these with us!

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  19. I love the way you ask all the "whys" Reminds me about how a simple life can be and that we can treasure every passing moment without regret.

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  20. Hi Tatyana,

    Love your post in many ways; the beautiful photos, the old yet friendly looking houses and the whys.

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  21. Just found your blog by chance and am enjoying the pictures. We used to live in Alaska and miss it to this day. We have even fished out of Ninilchik!

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  22. Why ?
    Because it's just beautiful, and I see it from your lovely pictures.

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  23. We refer to those old abandoned homesteads that list to one side as "Alaskan Retirement Homes." They are found in many areas of the state and for me hold great charm.

    Christine in Alaska

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  24. Thanks for a great tour - I had NO idea about the Russian element in Alaska! Fascinating :)

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  25. That village is quite stunning. I love places like that, brimming with character. I think it's sad that these places die out, to replaced by neon and tarmac and fried bloody chicken!

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  26. Hi Tatyana, thank you for the awesome photos of that very far village, which i will not be able to see in this lifetime. It is very idyllic and simple looking. And thank you also for the information you gave us, especially the 3-bar cross. I just learned about it now, especially the distinction of the horizontal and angled. regards and thank you.

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  27. Another wonderful post Tatyana! There is so much to learn here though your photos and text. Dreamy and quaint. Great photos of the village ... I love the winding road along the winding river. Lovely! ;>)

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