Grandmothers' mushrooms'

On saturday i went to Carmody’s Return, a 60 acre block of land owned by one of my Stillness in Action Support Group Members, Laura. Nestled among some national forest in Central Victoria, it was mostly green paddock or field, once used for grazing sheep. The land was sprinkled a handful of trees, among rolling green hills and an old dry creekbed. There were two midsized dams (rain fed) and they’d put a shed on the top of the hill, had electricity service brought in.

We were greeted by the sight of two magnificent Wedge Tailed Eagles. Massive birds of prey! Having lunch on some poor cirtter, likely a rabbit or hare. As you’d often see with Bald Eagles, smaller birds like crows harassing the eagles was part of the display. Soon we were off exploring the land and saw what the eagles were feasting on, all that was left was a bloody spine and a bit of grey fur strewn about.

Tiny wildflowers dotted the hills, sun dews are these almost skeletal, yellow insectivourous flowers that can digest bugs in times of drought. Talk about adaptive! Cow slip orchids and little white flower spurts, so many that you couldn’t help but walk on them! Laura said she’d never seen the land so green or the dams so full. Parts of the area by the fence was bare earth with lichen patches, the disturbed earth by the shed and new dam were covered in a low weedy plant.

In a couple parts, long bones and vertebrae were scattered around, sunbleached and imbeded in the grass. I found two skulls, a kangaroo and a rabbit. It was good to be reminded of the cycle of life. In a few areas we found field mushrooms. Laura had eaten them before and we picked a bunch for dinner. Ros was a bit wary given her educational role at the Botanical gardens and exposure to programs that instruct people to not eat anything they are not certain of. She did eat some in the end, we had a fantastic steak and mushroom dinner cooked over the fire. And i live to tell the tale!

The next day the rest of our crew joined us and we wandered down to a part of the creek bed that was home to the entity known as Grandmother Tree, a gigantic ancient River Red Gum. She was at least two hundred years old, it took all six of us to embrace her circumfrence. Her leaves were diseased and dry looking but she was still grand and majestic in stature. She’d been droping limbs she could no longer support since her water source was dammed several years ago. We could feel her wisdom and took time to absorb it as we meditated under her boughs. I felt her power and her sadness. Each person shared their story as we sat with the grandmother tree. Was magical to have the chance to do our check-in at such a locale! No concrete, no cell phones, no walls but the ones within us. I cherished this experience to be out in nature with my group. The group of people i’ve come to know since our Stillness in Action (SIA) retreat. We have continued to meet every few weeks in the city and every few months a bit further out.

I wasn’t sad to come back, i was exhausted but refreshed. On Monday night my cousin and grandma came over to celebrate our grandma’s 84th birthday. She used to live not far from the land we were at and had also had mushrooms from the farm they lived on. I made mushroom soup from some of the extras we had picked the day before, my first time making it from scratch, tasted fantastic. And so good to hear about my grandma’s early life eating field mushrooms in Eppalock and about moving to Melbourne to go to school. It was great to share stories over soup with family in honour of my grandma’s birthday and to link the experience of the previous day shared with my SIA group, through these magnificent and magical mushrooms!