July 20, 2021


Minta Phillips, MD

Hello all from North Carolina (NC)! I hope you are well despite the extreme challenges of our current times.

Perhaps like you, I am very practiced in social distancing. Not only am I a retired radiologist with a long career practicing in a dark, isolated cubicle, I live in a restored wayfarer's inn, originally built by Quakers (circa 1818) on 30 acres with a beautiful 3-acre pond.

After six years of beekeeping, my lesson in altruism is complete with up to 30,000 female worker bees in their hives by mid-summer.

Sadly, I lost all my bees during the winter of 2019–2020 due to extreme temperature fluctuations from climate change on top of challenging varroa mites, pesticides and reduced "healthy" foraging sources (According to 2018 data, NC averaged 50% colony loss between April 2017 and April 2018).

In the spring of 2020, I caught three swarms and now I am up to eight colonies using "intensive" varroa mite control and feeding syrup. Beekeeping is not as easy as it was for my grandfather!

I am currently very involved in the bipartisan volunteer group, Citizens’ Climate Lobby. I continue to lobby on behalf of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, one of several carbon pricing proposals in Congress to utilize free-market incentives to urgently address climate change while using a dividend to help lower-income citizens during the transition.

I've also been painting egg tempera icons on 7" x 10" multilayered gessoed poplar wood boards. My medium is one egg yolk sans membrane, 3 tablespoons water, 1/4 teaspoon vinegar. Then I mix dry pigments with 24k gold leaf over red clay "bole." So far, my paintings primarily depict secular women icons (sorry bros, I may get around to you!).

Here is my painting, "Radioactive," picturing Marie Curie — safe from a distance.

I spend a lot of time outside "zen" mowing, which I find releases the monkey mind, mysteriously leading to creative pursuits, such as this poem:

The old pear tree remembers spring.
Her sister ceased two seasons ago.
A spring green grassy circle replacing her umbra.
With the pungent cut wild onions and sweet clover.
Below her rams-horns callous, she still has the heartwood.
She blossoms her few precious white puffs.
The bees know that she still knows it is spring.

That is all for now. Be well and be mused!