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on biking and beekeeping

January 6, 2011

My grandfather's bike

When it comes to winter cycling, I’m no trailblazer in my family. My grandfather, who’s 84 years old, cycles year-round come rain or snow. He lives in Romania (where I was born and lived when I was younger) and he has owned the same bike for as far back as I can remember.

My grandfather and his bike

Although he owns a car, he uses his bike for everyday errands like grocery shopping, going to the outdoor farmer’s market, paying bills in town, and riding over to visit friends. He drives when needing to go to other cities but prefers to bike when simply going around town. He prefers it to walking because it’s faster and – although he might not admit this – he prefers it to driving because it allows him to hop off and say hi to people every other block. My grandpa is what one would call a ‘social butterfly’ and you can’t walk or ride anywhere with him without stopping every few minutes to greet an acquaintance or talk to a friend.

My grandfather, the beekeeper

In his former life, my grandfather was an accountant. Once he retired, he simply couldn’t sit still so he took up beekeeping. He’s been a successful beekeeper for the past twenty-some years and I can only vouch for it: he produces some of the best honey in town. Some of my happiest childhood memories involve being chased by bees and chewing on honey-soaked beeswax.

My grandparents

My grandfather has been married to my grandmother for over sixty years. He has a joie de vivre that I can only hope to have when I am their age. His has an energy that comes from having spent a life outdoors, pursuing the things that make him happy, and never letting life idly pass him by. He’s not deterred by numbers (his age, the temperature outside, the number of minutes it takes to bike rather than drive) when it comes to living in a way that feels good.

I want to one day be 84 years old, still married to my best friend, hopping on my bike to ride around town, and treating each day like a chance for a new adventure.

On my grandfather's bike

45 Comments leave one →
  1. Nora permalink
    January 6, 2011 14:16

    This is the best and most inspirational post I have ever read! Thank you for sharing it! This will make me smile for the rest of the day (and it is so nasty outside that some sunshine was desperately in need).

  2. Chloe permalink
    January 6, 2011 14:50

    What a lucky man! And what a lovely post to start the morning with, thank you!

  3. January 6, 2011 15:29

    thank you for sharing! he is an inspiration indeed!

  4. January 6, 2011 16:13

    Thank you so much for sharing! Your grandparents are ADORABLE and inspiring!

  5. January 6, 2011 17:45

    Your grandparents are darling :) I would love to have grandparents who were beekeepers, as I’m a huge fan of honey!

    Honey and bees were very important culturally in Lithuania – the old word for friend, bičiulis (kind of a diminutive of bee), comes from the word for bee, bitė, because people used to live on homesteads with several families, and each family would keep bees, and the bees would all mingle between each family’s hives.

    I agree with your grandfather, numbers and statistics aren’t important if it means doing what you want. You arrange your life the way you want it, intentionally, rather than allowing life to fling you around haphazardly.

    Like in The Little Prince, speaking of “grown-ups” – “When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”

    I prefer to believe the proof that someone exists is that they wanted a sheep :)

    • January 6, 2011 17:59

      Dave – what a fun fact about the word “friend” in Lithuanian. I love bees and honey, I grew up with is being such a huge part of my childhood. I still bring back tons of honey every time I go visit my grandparents (even though I’m technically not sure if you’re allowed to transport honey on a flight…hmmm….I’ll plead ignorance there…)

      And I love Le Petit Prince – great point there!

      • January 6, 2011 18:11

        Yeah, it seems to me there is way too much distraction with numbers and statistics and how certain things should be a certain way for you to be happy or content – which is something that can only be determined by each individual person, but never will be, unless they decide to look at the essential things, about themselves and other people and the world around them. I think Le Petit Prince is probably one of the most important books I’ve read (Saint-Exupery’s other books are amazing as well).

        We once brought back a chunk of smoked (but not cooked) pork from Lithuania, that our friends’ mom made – I totally forgot it was in the bottom of my bag when going through customs, and they didn’t find it :) I was pretty excited when unpacking!

        Don’t suppose you’d ever be interested in doing a mail-exchange for a small jar of honey (if you have extra)? We could send you some goodies in exchange (food or otherwise) :)

  6. January 6, 2011 17:54

    What a sweet post. Your grandpa gives us all something to aspire to.

  7. January 6, 2011 17:59

    Thank you, everyone, for all your nice comments about this post! It felt very personal to share it but I’m happy to see it so well received.

  8. January 6, 2011 18:03

    bees and bikes, another two of my favorite things. thanks for sharing, this is a great story of an awesome grandpa with a couple of awesome hobbies!

  9. Melissa @ HerGreenLife permalink
    January 6, 2011 19:48

    What great inspiration — this definitely brought a smile to my face.

  10. January 6, 2011 22:48

    You can feel the affection and love you have for your grandfather in this post. He and your grandmother are absolutely adorable! Thanks for sharing a bit about what makes you – you!

  11. January 7, 2011 00:32

    S, what a beautiful heartfelt post. I have to say all your posts are grand, but this one is my absolute favorite. Thanks for sharing your grandfather with us.

  12. Daniel permalink
    January 7, 2011 00:54

    sehr suess deine grosseltern :)

  13. January 7, 2011 01:10

    Love this post so much! Your grandparents are adorable.

  14. January 7, 2011 01:18

    Thank you for going out on a limb and sharing this personal story. It is so touching. I love the way you have portrayed your grandfather’s approach to life. I hope I’m as active as he is at his age! I too can relate to the lack of interest in numbers. Even more so since I stopped being a competitive runner and can now just run or walk because I want to and just guess how far I’ve gone, but not need to time it and beat a certain time. I love it. It feels much more like me.

  15. Tom M. permalink
    January 7, 2011 02:50

    What an inspiring and…….well, just plain happy portrayal of your grandparents! I am already a cyclist and have been thinking about taking up beekeeping. I am sure that I could learn much from your grandfather. I agree with another post which said that your description of him was like sunlight on a cold winter day. It certainly warmed my heart. We who are young or middle aged need to hear about beautiful lives like that of your grandparents; they remind us that growing old can be a wonderful adventure with unique charms and potential. Bless you for sharing this loving family portrait.

  16. January 7, 2011 02:52

    Very nice! I certainly want to be that active at that age.

  17. ridon permalink
    January 7, 2011 04:32

    what a nice story! love the picture of your grandfather looking over at your grandmother, what a sweet picture (get it? okay i’ll stop).

  18. January 7, 2011 04:37

    Great post! Beekeeping is on my list of things to attempt soon, but I’m impressed by your grandfather’s operation– that is a lot of bee hives!

  19. Tracy permalink
    January 7, 2011 05:23

    This is why I love to read blogs (and yours especially)–to get this wonderful glimpse into someone else’s life. This post was sweet and inspirational. Thanks for sharing something so heartfelt and warming.

  20. January 7, 2011 06:00

    <33333 what awesome post. one of my faves from you. special, thanks for sharing xxo♥m

  21. January 7, 2011 06:14

    So lovely! You are so lucky to still have your grandfather – I lost both of mine in my teenage years.

  22. January 7, 2011 09:26

    This post sure brings back memories. I used to have a bike like your grandfathers’ when I was in college (Groningen, the Netherlands). It was quite an unusual bike and I think that is why I was able to keep it for almost three years. I decorated it with lots of color and flowers in a way that was not easy to cover the decoration up by spray paint. Potential thieves probably thought twice about stealing my bike because it was so recognizable. To bad that I don’t have a picture of my “fun” bike.

    Your grandparents are a true source of inspiration!

  23. January 7, 2011 10:31

    Inspirational. Your grandfather sounds like one very happy man. Thanks for sharing :-)

  24. Donna permalink
    January 7, 2011 13:03

    Thanks for sharing an amazing story!

  25. JacquelineM permalink
    January 7, 2011 15:42

    This made me cry! I admire your grandfather greatly, and completely agree with your last sentence. Beautiful!

  26. Amelia permalink
    January 7, 2011 16:11

    Had to chime in with everyone else and say that I loved this post. Such an inspiration to get outside and keep moving! What is it about grandpas? They are truly irreplaceable. I lost mine a few years ago, but am filled with happy memories this morning thanks to this post. Thanks for sharing! :-)

  27. January 7, 2011 18:15


  28. steve permalink
    January 7, 2011 19:32

    Wow! Salute to Grandpa! This blog rocks!

  29. January 7, 2011 21:14

    This is a wonderful post. If I live to be 84, I too want to be happy and riding a bike.

  30. January 8, 2011 15:46

    your grandfather has a beautiful attitude and is an inspiration. may we all be so lucky.

  31. January 9, 2011 15:41

    What a wonderful post and what a fantastic man your grandpa is! Thanks for sharing :D

  32. January 9, 2011 20:41

    Thanks so much for sharing this story, S.! It’s both wonderful and inspirational learning more about you and your family and where you’re love of biking comes from!

  33. January 9, 2011 22:36

    What a beautiful tribute to your grandfather. This post is so touching, and it makes me think of my own grandparents and my own family and what they have done in their lives and what kinds of people they were. I’m terrible at writing comments on posts like this (it’s an odd, but totally welcome break from the “I love your outfit” comments that I seem to write when I’m doing my blog reading), but suffice it to say that I adore this post, and won’t be surprised if I come back time and again to read through it and feel nostalgic for my own grandparents.

  34. Edith permalink
    January 10, 2011 03:41

    Thanks for sharing!

  35. Rika permalink
    January 16, 2011 14:58

    Love this post. What a special man.
    Congrats on your pregnancy.
    I read your blog regularly.
    Cheers from Utah

  36. March 8, 2011 22:47

    beautiful! thanks so much for sharing this sweet post. :) we’re starting to raise bees this spring and are so excited and happy about it!

  37. Daria permalink
    March 10, 2011 12:03

    Mi-au dat lacrimile citing acest post, mi s-a facut dor de bunicul meu care, desi nu crestea albine si nu mergea cu bicicleta, avea aceeasi dragoste de viata ca si bunicul tau. Ii doresc multa sanatate!


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