Environmental Knowledge  

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July 1999


A short interview, in which the narrator, resettled here after the war, initially needs much prompting to expand on his opinions. These centre mostly on the changing environment and his hobby of beekeeping. He is a member of the Apiary Association and mentions that most of the local beekeepers are “not satisfied because there is no demand for honey, they can’t sell it”. Medicines and wax are very expensive, which means “there are no prospects for bee-keeping to develop nowadays”. Says it makes him “sad” that “there are no young bee-keepers around … all of us are granddads”. Takes great pride in his hobby, noting that “it’s only the Poles who respect bees” and that in parts of the French Alps, “they are robbers not bee-keepers”, because they pile up the hives on top of each other and “everything is done by the date. They don’t care whether the honey is ready or not”.

Discusses the changing climate. He regularly notes weather changes in his book and thinks that there are a lot more anomalies in recent years, such as “this year, a cuckoo started singing very early and for quite a long time”. The environment has changed dramatically in his view, with fewer trees, more acid rain and “dirtier” water. Born in the Ukraine, it is clear that he sometimes regrets being moved to the mountains (“I always say, how stupid I’ve been to live here for over 50 years”). In particular, he thinks the “farming is very poor … it’s extremely difficult to work here. It’s nothing like working in the flatlands”. He admits, however, that the scenery is “just beautiful”.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Description of his former occupation – beekeeper – and how his father and grandfather were also beekeepers.
Section 2  He was also a manager in a butchery and a warehouse manager. Discusses the difficulties of keeping bees now that the climate has changed and there are more diseases.
Section 3  Bemoans the price of medicine and wax and how it is now too expensive to keep bees. Believes the weather has changed for the worse recently, with too many frosty nights in the spring.
Section 4  Thinks weather conditions are a lot more extreme these days, with “sudden” gusts of wind and rain that “are not natural in my opinion”. Says there was no tourism in this area in the past: “it was simply a closed town”. But he isn’t concerned about recent developments in tourism, saying the visitors do not “do any harm to nature … what can they do? Break a twig or something?”
Section 5  Finds the water to be a lot “dirtier because of the calamities [and] .. People now make toilets for themselves … throw their waste directly into the river”. Seems to regret having lived in the mountains, but his wife is “a highlander” who “says she suffocates in [the lowlands]”.
Section 6  Feels sad that so much deforestation has taken place, so that “our mountains have changed, they have become bald”. Gets “furious” when he thinks how much easier people’s lives are in the lowlands, especially that of a bee-keeper.
Section 7  Compares bee-keeping in Poland to parts of the Alps and to Mexico. Thinks “it would be good if people left the villages altogether” and the area was just covered with trees – “then we would have really beautiful areas here”.
Section 8  Ends interview by stating that “all the village people should be given jobs. Or displace them from here” because otherwise they are simply destroying the environment.