The Fragile Earth Egg

I try to stay on topic. This is a bee blog.  But it’s hard to think about bees when our weather is so crummy. It has been extremely cold!  Winter is officially over, but only on the calendar. A few days ago, my 11-year-old daughter said that winter leaves, then the next day, throws the door open and shouts, “And one more thing!”  (Don’t worry, she’s not picking that up from her parents.) Anyway, I guess winter has a lot to say this year.

I’ll write about bees next time.  For now, I’ll just prattle about last weekend, which was a happy one for me. If you saw my post last Friday, you know that it was my birthday (and it was Apitherapy Day!).  I was given some great gifts – a book written by Steven Pinker, a CD by insensitive Calgary pop star Jann Arden, and some crafts made by my kids, like the painting below which was from my 15-year-old. It’s my first-ever oil portrait and I rather like the style, if not the substance. Next time I get lost, I’d love to have my missing persons’ posters feature this portrait.

My son didn’t ask me to pose for my portrait. Instead, he furtively snapped the picture you see to the left.  Then he spent a few hours making art and presented the result as a surprise birthday gift.    As an artist, he is creative but methodical. You can see how he printed the photo in black and white, then gridded it to get the proportions. He kindly made my hair less gray but I think that he could have given me less forehead, too! You can see that he has an impressionist style, but for the forehead, he went for realism.

I have no idea how he became such an outstanding artist. He has sold several paintings (his Jerusalem was great and sold back around Hanukkah). I suspect he’ll put himself through astrophysics school by selling paintings – like this one.

If his talent arrived genetically, it was from his mom. I can hardly assemble a stick-figure, even though I’m pretty good with figures. (Maths are my strong suit.)  Here’s my best (and only) stick figure:

My very first stick-figure!

My birthday was on Good Friday, so last weekend included Easter. My kids painted eggs – I’ve never understood why the Easter celebration includes decorating eggs, followed by looking for them (while eating chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps) on Easter morning. I’m guessing that there’s some obscure conflation with redemption from original sin symbolized in the egg hunt. Maybe a reader will be kind enough to explain it to me. Nevertheless, this year, I joined my kids by painting an egg – you can see it here.

It’s my fragile Earth egg.  As they say, you can take the beekeeper out of geophysics, but you can never take the thrill of plate tectonics out of the beekeeper.

Back to our cold spring weather. Yesterday was brutal. It began at minus 24 °C here in Calgary. The high was about -11 °C, but the wind was wicked – it felt like minus 40 to me.  I hope it warms up soon. We have a couple of packages of bees flying in from New Zealand in two weeks. (Boy, will their wings be tired by the time they arrive!)  The forecast teases that it will be above freezing by then.  I hope so. Meanwhile, here’s what our breeze-way looked like this morning, April 7, 2018:

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
This entry was posted in Culture, or lack thereof, Humour, Strange, Odd Stuff and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The Fragile Earth Egg

  1. Erik says:

    Happy Day! Sounds like a good one. We are suffering through cold weather in Virginia as well – above freezing, but cold for us. Looking forward to some warm, sunny days.

    What Pinker book did you receive? My wife and I just read Better Angels of our Nature and quite enjoyed it. I would be interested in more of his work.

    Good luck with your New Zealand bees!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Hi! I’ve been following your weather down ‘south’ because one of my best friends from high school ended up living in Arlington and working through four presidents as a White House press correspondent. She’s been posting photos of the really awful weather you’ve been having down there!

      My first Steven Pinker book was 1994’s The Language Instinct, which of course is about how people learned to communicate. I’ve read a couple others, including his recent style guide to writing. I recommend that one to anyone who occasionally needs to communicate (that’s most of us). I’ve not yet read Better Angels, but I will. Pinker’s latest book is Enlightenment Now, a book which Bill Gates calls, “My new favorite book of all time.” I’m looking forward to reading it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. susan rudnicki says:

    Well, I’m not going to stay on topic either! I am reading your post while Sarah Chang plays the magnificent Bruch Violin concerto, which I studied some years ago but will never play even adequately. I always tear up hearing it!
    But, the intersection of bees and art and our fragile Earth is not so far-fetched. Your son’s fine painting is expression of our finest impulses, and even your Earth egg, too. I only wish our species would more often manifest these impulses and care for the real things that matter.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. susan rudnicki says:

    By the way, the story about your daughter’s catching Winter delivering more news is adorable!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Emily Scott says:

    It’s a brilliant portrait, something to treasure. Happy belated birthday.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m very impressed with your son’s portrait of you. And your daughter sounds delightfully witty.

    Here in South Carolina it is March which plays the most tricks on us. It lures us with false starts then catches us with frosts and freezes. Older folks have learned this and the rule is, Don’t plant before Easter. I guess the same applies to beekeepers not to make splits nor start queens.

    Sounds like you had a wonderful birthday. Hang in there; spring will arrive soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      I really like the old adage – “Don’t plant before Easter” in South Carolina. Ours, here in western Canada (I’m a two hour drive north of Montana) is “Don’t plant before the May long weekend,” which is around May 20 for us. We always get a few flakes of snow that weekend, but then it finally warms up. Our split and swarms season comes quickly after that.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. valbjerke says:

    I get my first ever bees May 10. Were they to arrive today I would have to shovel through two feet of snow to get to where I’m putting the hive…..definitely had enough of winter, starting to feel like I’m going to have to scramble to stay organized.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Deb Corcoran says:

    I enjoyed your off topic blog; tis good to marvel at our quality genetics that pop-out and surprise us, usually just when we need it most. Thanks for bee-ing off topic, much needed here!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Gene McCune says:

    Hi Ron,
    Greetings from Northeast Ohio. Today is April 8th and it’s snowing to beat the band! We have bees arriving from Florida the last week of April, so we are also praying for spring Time weather! Have been reading your blog for many, many years and enjoy every one. Your son may have got your wife’s artistic abilities ( the portrait was great), but your daughter has your wit! Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Thanks! Your very kind words are appreciated. I like writing this bee blog, but notes like yours are my pay!
      I grew up just outside Youngstown, in western Pennsylvania, and I remember some of those damp, dark, snowy, late springs. Before you know it, black locust, tulip polar, and basswood honey will be filling your hives.


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