Greeks, Pastries, and Clouds

Dear Liza,

I am sorry I haven’t written to you this week. My story about the history of Portland is making my brain very full of this place, but at another time. June and July of 1888, to be exact. My character is a girl named Caroline and she is visiting Portland for the first time. In telling her story, I hope to show people (especially kids) what Portland was like in those days.

Ominous clouds

But yesterday was day full of the present. The weather was very threatening…heavy clouds layered with happy cumulus, alternating with bright sunshine. But it was Saturday and the Greek Festival was being held just a few blocks away on Glisan Street, at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Curious about what we would see, we took hats, umbrellas, and boots, and off we went.

Holy Trinity Church

We have walked past the church many time, a beautiful, imposing brick church with domes and ornate crosses. We walked past it again on our way into the festival area.  The organizers had wisely set up tents over almost the entire area, in case of rain. The first thing we saw was the dreaded “talents” (tickets) table.

Many festivals are using this system, because it allows money to be kept safer. But it also makes all customers wait in three different lines buy anything. One to buy the tickets, (in this case, the Greek themed “talents”), a second line to buy whatever you want, and then a third line if you need more or wanted to return extras. It takes a lot of the spontaneity out of shopping.

Yummy honey filled pastries

We did break down and buy a tray of Greek pastries, and nibbled them. They have wonderfully complicated names. Kataifi look like shredded wheat biscuits but are butter, nuts and honey filled, very sweet and goopy. Koulourakia are butter cookies with sesame seeds on top. Grandpa Nelson held the box while Auntie Bridgett and I went to tour the church. Food isn’t allowed inside.

The church was lovely. High walls, ornate and imposing paintings, perfect mosaics and glowing stained glass windows. This church seems to be of the opinion that people are very small, God is very big, and without the priests, people have no chance of understanding the eternal being.

Greek Orthodox Icon

I do not share this opinion, but I appreciate the beauty, anyway.

After we got home and ate a few more pastries, Auntie Bridgett and I walked through the park.

Holy Trinity Church
Giant leaves!

Squirrels are running everywhere, bounding like small grey rainbows, trying to remember where they have hidden acorns. More leaves are down, some enormous (notice Bridgett’s foot by this one), and the forest smell is almost overwhelming, it is so alive and sweet.

So, today we got to visit two magnificent places. Although the church was nice, I find God more in the forest.

No offense intended, Holy Trinity.


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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