Sunday, January 19

Picking Wild Mushrooms

I was listening to the radio this morning where the host was talking about stories from the past, and suddenly I remembered something from my childhood, that I had not spoken or written about.  Picking mushrooms.  I thought I would write about my childhood experiences as a child, and went online to see if anything was written about picking wild mushrooms in Adelaide.  Really, I found a collection of warnings about how dangerous it was! 

This is my story about safely (no one was ever sick!!!) about picking wild mushrooms in Adelaide in the 1950's and 1960's.

We lived around 12 kms from the city of Adelaide, and moved into our new house in 1948.  There were few homes around the area - mostly farms, with a railway line going through the area, in fact in ran parallel to our street which was called Railway Terrace.  There was vacant land around our home, and as children we had a wonderful time of freedom wandering around the paddocks playing under the prickly boxthorn (bushes with nasty thorns). 

I think it was mainly in autumn that we started looking for mushrooms - we would find wild ones growing around the paddocks - I can recall getting instructions on the safe ones to collect - we did know that some were poisonous, so we would pick the mushrooms that had brown (light when they were young mushrooms and darker when they were older).  We would pick them if we found them at random, but would often set off to collect them, armed with something to carry them in (a basket or a box), and a knife.  We knew it was best to cut the mushroom, leaving the "root" so that more mushrooms would grow in the future.

Our uncle had a property at McLaren Vale, and we would occasionally visit him.  Along one side of the property was a stand of gum trees going the length of the property and it was here that we found our best ones.  They were everywhere and we had a wonderful time collecting them.  In a way, we would keep our eyes open whenever we were out and about to collect any mushrooms.

Some of them were huge - as big as bread and butter plates, and we would carefully take them home, peel them, cut them and my mother would cook them in butter on the stove.  We loved them.

As the area around our home was developed our mushroom hunting grounds disappeared.

I have never been able to collect wild mushrooms like we did as children - and in recent times there has been a great fear of picking mushrooms because so many are poisonous.  We "knew" which ones to pick and even today if I was out and about and found mushrooms, I feel confident that I can pick only the safe ones.  We "knew"..

I learned today that there are groups that like hunting for wild mushrooms - Shroomers.

* * * *

It was listening to the ABC talking about people's stories - and they mentioned "Horrie the Wog Dog" and the stories surrounding this famous dog.  Ion Idriess wrote about this dog in 1945, and you can read it here. Horrie the Wog Dog

There is also an article on Wikipedia


 

2 comments:

peter petterson said...

I like a few mushrooms now and then, but never picked any. I think you have to be careful that you don't pick any toadstalls - they are the poisonous ones.

Di Hill said...

Somehow we knew - I think our mother taught us - which were the toadstools, and we would see other mushrooms that we knew were not to be picked. It was great fun.