"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Russian Journals, Part Thirteen, Leaving Kizhi Island

I’m standing at the rail on the top deck of the MS Nikolay Chernyshevsky. The short rays of a setting sun bathe the Kizhi Pogost in golden light.

We are the last boat of the day. Already the souvenir sellers have shuttered their shops, folded their tents, and gone away. The dog with the too large head waits for its master to go to their skiff. Our vessel slips its thick, braided bonds, and side thrusters push us gently from the concrete pier.

Silently, our boat slides past the ancient buildings on the grassy rise. The air is totally still. The two bands of gossamer wisps that begin to obscure the sun are forming rather than wind-borne, and the light transforms to silver.

With no decipherable onset, there is sound in the air—the ethereal, breathy sound of a pan flute. A man seated nearby leans forward, his body language says he is anticipating disappointment. A flutter of two notes, a third held for long measure. Silence. Again, a flutter and a continuous third note, then silence again. It is a beckoning sound.

Then the pan flute plays the melody of El Pastor Solitario. The man leans back in his chair and says, “Perfect.” Tears obscure my vision, much like the now-obscured sun, and the world turns silver.

The scene is surreal. This stunning church of twenty-two domes, hand built by a master craftsman and his axe, now stands devoid of humans. The pan flute’s haunting music continues. Then, as our vessel slides behind another island, the music dissipates with no discernable ending.

Once again the Kizhi Pogost is with time and nature as its sole companions.


  1. These visual and word images will stay with me for a long time. In an ocean of good words, yours here are among the best I've read.They inform me,yes; but more importantly,they move me.

  2. Now I understand fully why you were looking forward to posting these photos and your accompanying words. The powerful combination is mesmerizing.

    I venture to say that moments like you've described here make the occasional hardships of travel well worth the effort.

    Have you thought of sending these photos and your words to the tour company for inclusion in their travel brochures?

  3. OMG! What fabulous photos, I am so jealous! Anyway I found your blog by accident when looking at the website for the Writers House here in Charlottesville. Your writing room was featured under the Writer's Notebook.
    The main reason I did a double take is because I have the exact same lamp with the glass (wisteria I think) shade..J.C. Penny circa 2004 or so :-)
    Also I did have almost the exact parrot. Rocko is a double yellow head and now resides happily with my ex. Well, that's too much information, I have to realize that it's not all about me this time, it's YOUR blog after all.
    Thanks for being such an interesting lady!

    Looking forward to more photo eye candy from you.

    Charlottesville, VA

  4. I listened to the music and got goosebumps, which hasn't happened to me in quite some time. Thank you for the thrill.

  5. Wow. Just wow.

    I'm an expat in Moscow . . . just found your blog. Looking forward to reading the rest.

  6. I just love your journal and have read 1,2 and 13. How do I read the bits in between?

  7. Very special. Quite an island and experience. Cap and Patti