NWR Newsletter 2017 V5_Newsletter 16OCT17 - Page 25

FA…….. FAbulous, FAntastic, FAtal (possibly), FAscinating Fungi! 1976 was when my love affair with fungi began in a Dutch forest. My husband and I came across 2 perfect red and white toadstools, the classic fairy tale ones—white stalk and red cap dotted with white spots—fly agaric mushrooms or Amanita muscaria to be exact! I am not an expert photographer by any means, but I do have boundless patience when taking shots of toadstools from all angles—above, below, and sideways, at times spending 5-10 minutes getting just the right aspect. At first Rob was impatient, urging me to ‘get a move on’ while on our lengthy holiday walks, but as time went on he realised that my fascination with fungi was not going to fade. The saying “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” began to make sense to him and now he is my chief scout, so whenever I hear a groan or an “oh no” on the path up ahead I know he’s found something worth photographing and he’s likely to be held up for some time. However, he’s admitted that he’s learnt to enjoy finding and studying them too and the groan is just to ‘stir’ me up. A year ago we explored Tassie and I have never seen so many amazing fungi. The time was right (March) and they seemed to be everywhere—a huge variety of shapes, sizes and colours—it was heaven and I came home with more than 800 photos. However, I paid the price. Many toadstools were in confined or awkward positions and I’d had to use just my right hand to hold, focus and shoot with my compact digital camera. After returning to Sydney I experienced great pain and reduced movement in my right thumb and wrist, needing quite a few physio sessions and a wrist brace for 3 months. It was, however, definitely worth it! A word of warning!! Some years ago I discovered a little patch of mushrooms growing in our garden and decided to make bacon and mushrooms on toast for Rob’s lunch. It only took an hour for the vomiting to start and I thought “my God, what have I done!” A frantic call to Poisons Information followed and to my huge relief I was told that as long as he was vomiting and getting rid of the poison he should be fine in a few hours. And indeed he was, but I felt dreadful, (so did he!!) The reason I had unwittingly poisoned him was that although they were definitely mushrooms, there was a virus in the soil that turned them toxic. When cut, mushrooms normally bruise pink but the toxin makes them bruise yellow. I’ve learnt my lesson and its store bought mushies now. Michele Middendorp The Hills 19