Clinic-the villages Aida, the lead physician, is good-natured, blustersome, and almost 5 feet tall–“I am short, but I know a lot!” The interview goes according to her agenda. She tells me of their scrupulous immunization practices, handed down from a higher, scientific authority. Aida sends us off in her jovial way–“Thank you for coming, and thank you for not eating our chocolates and drinking our coffee!”

Haemophilus influenza, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis–germs to which children, infants, and expecting mothers have a special vulnerability–they won’t find a toe-hold here. Armenian parents, like many Vermonters, have a history of skepticism about this kind of protection. But here they are increasingly accepting of vaccination, partly because all vaccinees can expect a house call within 3 days. I might have considered this excessive, but the clinicians say their patients avoid immunization complications because of the careful checking.

When Tavid, now 25, emerged from his doctor shot visit 20 years ago, he exulted, “I feel so clean!” That protected, connected, microbially righteous feeling, like he was wearing a new coat of arms.

Sarian Museum Sarian, who designed Armenia’s coat of arms decades ago, stands with Monet and Chagall among painters. He wrote about how a feeling of connection to the earth depends on knowing, and loving, a specific landscape and community.

Life is an island. People come out of the sea, cross the island, and return to the sea. But this short life is long and beautiful. In getting to know nature man exalts the wonder and beauty of life.

Sarian paintings: imageimage                    

Travelling, Tavush and Lorry Marz We’re at home in these mountainous, forested, northeastern provinces–Armenia’s little Vermont. At Haghpat monastery (also part university, part caravansary, part fort), the swifts are raising their young inside the 1100 year old walls of the sanctuary. Tiny beaks show in the portholes of round gray nest-walls as the parents arrive with treats. The monasteries are built at the tips of mountainous promontories, soaring over the green zor (valleys). Their approaches, and the people, treasures, and manuscripts within, were protected by walls 20 feet high and 4 feet thick. Those marauders’ were determined.

Monastery swifts:

In the valley below, stream frogs court in strange amphibian phonemes I’ve never heard:

Sanahin village, a few miles away, has a monastery and a museum with an actual MiG fighter jet in front, because it was designed by one of Sanahin’s native sons, Artem Mikoyan.


A grand niece–a real Mikoyan–shows pictures of Artem’s illustrious brother, politician Anastas Mikoyan.


Among other accomplishments, Anastas averted World War III, and brought ice cream from America to the Soviet Union. Stalin: “You, Anastas, care more about ice-cream, than about communism.” I like your priorities, Anastas.

Cascade, 9PM An outdoor dance event, last friday of every month. A young man asks, “you want to join?” He takes my right hand as I join the circle. It turns out I know this dance better than him. “Oh, you know this one!” But he’s catching it from me, and I feel the safety of belonging.


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