Calistoga’s Russian Orthodox Church

Jun 13, 2012

A friend asked me what is the most northern mission in Alta California.  It was a Bambi moment, you know deer in headlights analogy: because it was an unexpected question, because I didn’t have a real answer.  So out came a non-answer answer; to the effect that where you stop hearing Spanish names for places, qué no?

Then we talked about regional names in Northern California, places with English and French names.  We both chuckled about the Russian River and the fact that we’re pretty sure the Russians didn’t call it Russian River, but that we didn’t know what they did call it.  And my mind began to wander.

What would have happened if the French or the Russians had they remained in the area?  Would we all have a better sense of Cyrillic?  Would the Molokans be better integrated into our history? Would they exist in the U.S?   I grew up being aware of the Molokans as I was growing up in East Los.  I suspect there were Russian Orthodox folks but I didn’t know or note them.

Mind still wandering.

Here is the Russian Orthodox Church in Calistoga, Napa Valley, CA. It’s about a block away from the main street travelled by local and tourist.
I’m sure the romanized cyrillic gives the name of the Saint or Sacrament that is being recalled, but I’ve no time to try to translate.   I am thankful to Tanya Nazaroff, my  Stevenson Junior High school buddy who helped me learn to read cyrillic at a kindergarten level.  Masha, Tasha, Kot… I can on occasion sound out words, though I’ve no sense of what they mean.  A potentially dangerous linguistic state.
Mystery remains, mind wanders.
It’s funny how the familiar need not be something you can read or translate.  I see this dome and am reminded of my childhood home – a community filled with all sorts of roots and branches. Iconic.  In this case, given Molokan beliefs, there is a certain irony in the whole package.

 Because I’ve mentioned the Molokans, here are a couple of sites with more info.

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