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Happy Spring, Toronto! I’ve got Particle Fever.

Yesterday was warm and lovely, springy, people out in light jackets and shoes, celebrating, pushing their faces to the sun. And now – my garden at 9 a.m. this morning. It’s snowing hard, and the squirrels are lined up at the bird feeder. Sigh.

Oh well. We are warm-blooded mammals and will prevail. Doesn’t this look like a David Milne painting? Lovely.

Still snowing.

On a more cheerful note: The other day, I saw one of the best movies I’ve ever seen: Particle Fever. It’s a documentary about the creation of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland – thousands of physicists from all over the world, including a surprising number of women, collaborating on the creation of a vast machine that will uncover the mysteries of the universe. I have never understood a thing about Higgs-Bosun, the God Particle, but now – well, now I understand the minutest smidge about it.

What was most moving to me, in this spectacular film – it’s funny! it’s thrilling! really! – is what one scientist says at the end: as the screen shows his colleague drawing rows of figures on a blackboard superimposed on shots of the caveman drawings from Chaumet in France, he says that art and science are the most useless activities for human beings in terms of their survival as a species, and yet the most important for affirming our humanity.

And I thought of my father, the physiologist, who studied cells all his life, yeasts, weird stuff. I the writer and actor was the artsy one and he was the rational one; I didn’t understand a word he said about his work. But in this film, I saw that the two of us were in our very different ways doing the same thing – exploring what it means to be alive – he through yeasts and I through plays and stories.

See this fantastic film. You’ll leave cheering for humankind which, today as the snow descends endlessly from the steely sky – falling, falling, softly falling upon all the living and the dead – is a cheer we all need.

Since my last post, I’ve also had the pleasure of another dinner with the French conversation group at Monique’s next door, in which Jack, who was born in Siberia, gave as succinct an explanation of what’s happening in Ukraine as is possible – too bad I was so busy eating and drinking, I don’t remember much. I had a long meeting with editor Chris Cameron about “True to Life,” the writing book that’s coming next, and with my publisher Don about “All my Loving,” which is nearly ready to go. And the term at U of T ended yesterday – a great group, great stories, I’m proud of them.

But my back hurts. Could it have something to do with the stress of my departure in a week? Or the zumba class on Sunday? Maybe it’s just from looking at the snow.



2 Responses to “Happy Spring, Toronto! I’ve got Particle Fever.”

  1. theresa says:

    The snow looks beautiful but I know that feeling — anticipation of spring thwarted…And thanks for the heads up about Particle Fever. (One of my daughters-in-law is a physicist (atmospheric, though, not particle) and I know that there are quite a lot of women in the field.) Looking forward to your book…

  2. beth says:

    Theresa, it snowed ALL DAY so my yard is a landscape of pure white. The women physicists in the film are stunningly impressive – the men are too, of course, but it's fantastic to see so many women doing hard science. And … I will be very happy to send you a copy when the time comes. We're getting there. One more copy sold … that's four. At least.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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