Our week-long cruise on Wilderness Discoverer ended in Sitka, a city I had missed on previous trips to Alaska. Yes, we had rain. Then the sun came out until the rain began again. Alaska had an exceptionally wet spring and summer. That’s what a friend who paints houses in Juneau said.
I’ll remember Sitka for gorgeous flowers blooming everywhere a flower might grow. I thank the drivers for not taking aim at tourists. They were easy-going, patient people who slowed down to let wayward pedestrians cross the street. Next best – the dogs. In Sitka people walk the nicest, friendliest dogs, and I missed my Abby. Most of all, I will be grateful for Ana Dittmar, the heritage museum curator at St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Ana agreed to accept my mother’s prayer book. (See WP post Sept. 2, 2017.)
Even though I had a map, the entrance to the Russian Orthodox cemetery was hard to find. Eventually, I met a tourist who had visited the cemetery, and she gave a simple direction – walk straight up Observatory Hill. Pass the houses and go to the end of the road. At the end, a dirt path snakes into a forest with topsy-turvy graves, triple-bar Orthodox crosses, headstones, and flowers. Visitors like me stepped into a eerie place of lush plants, moss, and slipper slopes that were magical and spooky.
The last days of an Alaskan vacation ended in Sitka. On a Saturday I visited St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral as a tourist, but one familiar with the history and traditions of Orthodoxy. Sunday I stood with others during the two hour liturgy. Childhood memories unfolded among the icons, incense, candles, and choir voices. I remembered the words. I knew the drill.
In the Cathedral, I began to think about my mother’s prayer book – again. The question I have often asked myself, who might want Our Daily Bread? The first edition book with 655 delicate pages, published in 1938, belongs in a special place. Certainly not on an eBay auction block. Through the digital world I reached a priest at St. Michael’s. Ana Dittmar, the Cathedral’s heritage museum curator became my go-to person. Although the prayer book is not related to the history of the Cathedral, Ana accepts ” . . . Orthodox items that are of sentimental significance . . . .”
About the prayer book – The book begins with 49 pages of morning and other prayers, followed by the Divine Liturgy. Evening prayers, prayers and devotions before and after Confession and Holy Communion come next. Psalms. Prayers for special intentions. Prayers and liturgies for the dying and the dead. Child’s manual of prayer. Fast days. Pages on the left were printed in church Slavonic. Pages on the right were printed in English. Ten years ago a Tucson bookbinder repaired and restored the cover.
Mary Lissik Lulic never traveled beyond Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. What a joy to know that her prayer book found a home at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Sitka.
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Today I made a video of Abby and a busy box. She knows to open the box and retrieve a biscuit or two. When I leave her alone, she goes outside and gets busy taking a box apart. Sometimes I put a small box inside of a larger box. Great distraction before boredom arrives. Then she uses the dog door and jumps on the living room couch for a nap. (That’s Dave Brubeck’s music playing in the background.)
First impressions — the city center plaza of Jackson Hole reminded me of Santa Fe. Western art galleries, shops ’til you drop, and restaurants line the square and trail along the side streets. Tourists love the place. In winter elk do, too. They live outside of town on the vast National Elk Refuge. To get started we drove straight to the visitor’s center for information and maps. Our list of places to see — National Museum of Wildlife Art, Grand Teton National Park, the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, Teton Village tram ride, and the byways that took us away from the main road.
Snowmelt cut our Snake River float trip time in half. The water raced along carrying logs, branches, and debris. Eagles, herons, pelicans, and beavers didn’t seem to notice the high water and flooded riverbanks. On our fifth and final day we returned to an old favorite, Yellowstone and the Hayden Valley.
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