Apr 22, 2006

RADOVLJICA, Slovenia – My phone trills, breaking the Bee Museum's hush. Despite a buzzing tape-loop, the exhibit halls echo silence and desolation. I race for the lobby, scratching down my editor's instructions.

As Edward says: What a weird way to make a living.

I return to find him contemplating a figural beehive, a life-sized wooden sculpture of a Janissary (a celibate Christian soldier in the Ottoman Empire). Insects entered through a bellybutton aperture. Honey oozed from a spout in the groin.

And our job's strange? Imagine the poor keeper who harvested that hive...

The museum also boasts a huge collection of folk art (the painted front boards of bee-boxes). A quick survey reveals that the Slovenian mind works in strange ways:

1. A bear in a rooster-drawn chariot

2. Rabbits carrying a funeral bier

3. Giant snails treeing a tailor

4. A fox shaving a hunter

Apparently this last cartoon illustrated the local proverb "to shave (i.e. pull) someone's leg".

We leave no wiser about the Balkans, but much amused.

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