Sunday, April 2, 2017

We'll All Become Mushrooms

It was a sunny, yet breezy day in Seattle, when Justin, Anya and I were walking through the streets of downtown which with all the tall buildings became wind tunnels, and I was wishing I had three, or better yet four hands to keep my cape that was trying to escape, and keep my floppy hat and flowy skirt down while also holding a purse and umbrella, in case it rained. We were walking to the most unusual event about which we got a recommendation just a week before, to see a presentation about bees and mushrooms - two subjects that we were curious about, but in a very separate-from-one-another way. I think that by now, many of you are aware of the critical situation with bees for the past several years, and you also might have heard that in January 2017, the first species (the rusty patched bumble bee) was officially declared under the federal protection (more about it HERE). Several more types of bees are potentially endangered in North America. Bees are the essential pollinators of wildflowers, fruit and crops, and it is pretty obvious that scientists are concerned and looking for ways to help the bees, and therefore plants, planet and us, people. But what does it have to do with mushrooms?

At this highly educating and inspiring presentation, we had a unique opportunity to see and hear Louie Schwartzberg, an awarded cinematographer who made amazingly beautiful and heartfelt films for National Geographic, Disneynature and more (see Louie's website MOVING ART), and Paul Stamets - a visionary mycologist, or as we say now, the Mushroom Man (see Paul's website FUNGI PERFECTI), who even if you've never been interested in mushrooms in your entire life, I'm pretty sure will make you fall in love with them. He was greeted by the audience as a national hero, and let me tell you the theater was full (I suspect, mostly university staff and students, but not exclusively so). It's a good thing he's got a sense of humor, I think my head would be too big for my hat if I was in his shoes that evening. Have you noticed how truly great people are so humble and approachable, and hug-able in the best possible way?

Mushroom hunting with my family in Siberia, 1970s (click to enlarge)

Personally, I fell for mushrooms long before I heard Paul speaking, and even long before I learned this very word "mycology" (which was very recent, actually). Mushrooms are a part of my DNA, as I grew up with my own Mushroom Man - my Dad is an amateur mycologist, a huge fan of mushrooms, and I spent many years of my childhood going mushroom hunting with him. But what neither my Dad nor myself knew before this presentation, is that Paul Stamets made a revolutionary discovery that bees can stay healthy thanks to mushrooms! "We all grew up on Winnie the Pooh," he said in his speech. "But nobody made the connection before." Nobody, but Paul. Bees build hives in rotten trees because they eat substances produced by the mushrooms that grow there, substances that help them fight disease and live longer. Together with the team of scientists from the Washington State University, Stamets and his team performed research which proved the theory...that mushrooms are indeed good for bees! The sickly hives that were fed with mushroom extracts became healthier and their bees lived longer!! 


I love that the venue for this event, the historic Moore Theatre, has a somewhat mushroom-colored interior. Built in 1907, it is the oldest operating theater in Seattle. Originally offering 2,436 seats, it was one of the largest theaters in the country at that time. At this point, the theater seats either 1,400 or 1,800 (numbers vary in different articles).

On the one hand, this new discovery is revolutionary. But on the other hand, it is no surprise, as Paul has studied mushrooms for decades, and he knows the role they play in ecological restoration. You would have to read Paul's work to learn more, but in a few words, fungi have an amazing potential to transform the health of the world - they are basically an immune system for the earth. Paul is involved with clinical research on cancer and HIV treatments using mushrooms. The story of his 85 years old mother who completely recovered from the 4th stage breast cancer is nothing short of a miracle. The woman is in her 90s now, she lives in West Seattle and is in good health and sharp mind, apparently beating her educated sons in Scrabble.

I have hardly done something like this before, but as soon as I bought tickets to this life-changing presentation, I also ordered this blouse which I was coveting for months since it first appeared in stores. And you know what, the story is a small miracle, but miracle nevertheless - the blouse was completely sold out at Lane Bryant, completely sold out at Nordstrom, and there was only one size left at the Melissa McCarthy site... and it was my size, and as soon as I made my purchase, it disappeared immediately from her site too! I think I found the very last mushroom blouse on the whole Internet! In my size! Clearly, it was waiting for me!

The proceeds from this event went to funding the Washington State University research on using mushrooms to save bees. I am so happy and proud that our family made a small contribution too!

PS Only now looking at the photos, I realize that my outfit reflects both mushrooms AND bees! Ha!

Linking to Visible Monday

Mushroom blouse - Melissa McCarthy (final sale)
Cape - Christian Siriano for Lane Bryant (last year)
Skirt - Isabel Toledo for Lane Bryant (old)
Patchwork boots - Naturalizer (last year)
Hat - via Lane Bryant (old)
Earrings - Chico's (old)
Clutch - via Eloquii

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  1. such a beautiful and moving and very interesting post!!!
    and in every way! the theme, the event, the location, your ensemble, the photos, all the informations..... (have to check the links asap)
    we would have totally loved to be there too. R is a bug fan of mushrooms too an knows a lot about them. and we both love to go hunting for and to eat them:
    and of cause bees! since we have the house we think about to have some hives in the garden :-)
    love the last mushroom-blouse of the world!! now i have to go hunting for a fabric (which is not for little kiddies) with mushrooms - or bees - or both! - and make a dress! jawoll!
    big huge hugses to you my fellow nature lover!

    1. big fan - of cause! ts.
      is there a link to the story about pauls mothers healing from cancer???

    2. Beate, I have just included a short video - TED talk with Paul where he shares his Mom's story!

    3. Beate, you would totally love this presentation, it was beyond words amazing! I think if you Google, you can find articles and interviews about Paul (and Louie - his art is so beautiful, touching and educating!), but of course his website is the main resource. It is absolutely wonderful to watch artists, scientists and all sorts of amazing people coming together to make our life on the planet better!

    4. And I am looking forward to YOUR mushroom creation soon! :)

  2. I'm a big fan of fungi prints, I've a vintage maxi dress Curtise gave me years ago that's due to get an outing when the weather's warmed up! The print on your blouse is lovely.
    Our good friends are beekeepers, we have their honey with our breakfast fruit salad and yogurt every morning. We leave most of our garden wild to encourage bees and other wildlife (or at least that's my excuse!) and I've scattered wildflower seeds on some newly dug patches of land this morning to keep them happy! x

    1. You are a natural woman, Vix, and your excuse for your gardening approach is the best there is. :) We are the same - wilderness and lots of flowering bushes around here, and bees visit us often! Justin is nuts about honey, so we always buy some.

      I really want to see that vintage dress!!

  3. This post is very interesting Natalia. Melissa McCarthy designs clothes? Interesting too ;)
    You look great, and I can imagine you search this wonderfull blouse. Congratulation a great style.
    Big hug, Tina

    1. Thank you, Tina! I love Melissa's line, it is modern with a whimsical touch and a sense of humor, I think you'd love it too! :)

  4. Very interesting post. I love both bees and mushrooms. Who knew they were connected in such a way. I'm pleased that our little garden is a magnet for bees (like Vix, I like to keep the garden wild), but I've heard from local beekeepers that their numbers are declining. Your mushroom blouse is very unusual (how great that you were able to buy the last one!) and I love the opulent interior of that theatre. xxx

    1. Thank you, Ann! It is a fantastic discovery indeed - Nature is self-healing, and we can learn so much from it! I'm glad you like the blouse, and the theater - I am also a big fan of old architecture!

  5. Oh WOW, dearest Natalia,
    this was really very interesting for me. I think you have already noticed that I am very interested in nature (and, if possible, for its healing), and so I am once again very impressed that Mother Nature HERSELF has a concept to heal the bees! I hope it works! I hope mankind has not yet destroyed too much.
    I love to eat mushrooms. When I was a child, we also liked to collect mushrooms during our holidays in Carinthia. Unfortunately, my urban-people-parents knew only a few varieties. And I know even less.
    But I recognize a pretty blouse when I see it - and I am tremendously happy with you about this wonderful mushroom piece!
    Lots of hugs,
    PS: I've joined the "Matrons" again :-))

    1. Thank you, Traude! I am so pleased you were interested in this post. It's a blessing to meet people like Paul and Louie and be inspired!
      I am also in no way an expert on mushrooms, but my Dad is a big enthusiast, and everything I knew about mushrooms up to that evening, I learned from my Dad. Now I learned some more, and it's amazing!
      I am looking forward to your MM post!

  6. PS2: So sweet, your childhood-photos!

  7. what a wonderful and interesting post!! I love the theatre and I love your blouse! really, it was waiting for you!!
    yes, it's a big problem with the bees. we have to "thank" the chemical industries for this!!! in my garden I try to plant flowers and bushes which are good for bees, butterflies and insects. mushrooms are growing at old tree stumps, which are lying under the bushes. I hope it's a little help...
    thank you for your nice comment, dear natalia!

    1. I am sure that all our kind actions and kind feelings, big and little ones, help us all, bees and mushrooms and people - it's all love, and it's all wonderful! Thank you, Mano!!

  8. You know dear Natalia, that is what I came to conclude myself. Great people, truly great people are always so incredibly approachable...isn't it amazing? The most clever people are often at ease when it comes to explaining the most complex things.

    I didn't know about the connection between the bees and the fungi...I'm glad I learned something new today. I read a lot about the dangers connected with the drop of bee populations. I believe that bee farmers in Croatia were among the first ones to raise alarm. Hopefully, now that we know that fungi are so crucial for the health of the birds, we can do something about it...and by growing more fungi or protecting them better perhaps we can help bees!

    1. I'm thankful to the farmers in Croatia for raising our awareness! Yes, I'm sure it is all connected -- bees with fungi, fungi with people, people with soil, etc. We all can help!

  9. ohhh, you look so cool and elegant wearing your mushrooms shirt, so appropriate for this event!, and I love your long vest (once more) and beautiful colors!, and such a fabulous cape and hat (even if they're difficult to wear in a windy day!)
    Such an interesting theme, I'm now Reading about it, thanks for sharing!

    1. I am so glad that it was interesting to you - and thank you, my dear!!