article regarding finding the amoeba in Tom's wife's flowerpot (read
Pleasures From a Flower Vase, editor's note) prompted me to
get busy and write about my microscopy experience.
A little less than two years ago my wife and I acquired our first
microscope, a B&L Stereo 4. The motive was innocent enough thinking
it would be a necessary supplement to Jane's aspirations regarding
engraving. After taking our first look through the magic glass we
were hooked and spent the next few weeks inspecting most everything
we came in contact with. Rocks, fossils, flowers, weeds, jewelry,
fungi and the associated bugs, other insects and of course the list
just goes on and on.
the desire to see fungi spore better led to a beautiful old B&L
monocular with the common 10x-43x and 97x objectives. It took us
about a year to decide that being able to call ourselves even novice
mycologist would probably take more years than either us of have
so now it only occupies a small amount of our time.
During the first few months of this new hobby a copy of Julian Corrington's,
"Adventures with a Microscope" found its way into my hands
and, as they say, the rest of it is history. Now, after a number
of other books and several instruments later, I'm happy to say that
the intrigue just seems to continually magnify.
About this time I started finding information on the web and the
"Microscope" site on Yahoo with Phil and Gordon's contributions
along with a multitude on individuals was an inspiration. A little
later your "www.amateurmicroscopoy.net" along with "On
Closer Inspection" and "www.photomacrography1.net"
was added to the list. It has been very interesting to learn how
helpful everyone (hobbyist or professional) seems to be in this
new hobby of mine. One individual in particular named "Jim"
from KC, MO has been a constant source of help and information of
which I will never be able to repay in kind.
the fall of 2003 I had occasionally looked at a little pond water
and decided that, before the Indiana winter made this activity less
appealing, I would collect two small jars and spent a couple weeks
trying various methods of preparation and observing. Now over eighteen
months old, these two little jars are still doing just fine.
During November and December of 2003 I searched for amoebae with
absolutely no success. A couple of the books seemed to make this
an easy assignment and, before I became too exasperated, returniing
to Mr. Corrington's comments regarding protozoa seemed in order.
Quoting him from chapter VI " Amoeba usually has to be found
and cultured by experts who have devoted many years to this study,
so do not be discouraged if your collections fail to show this famous
organism." Now it seemed prudent to just give up on the elusive
prey and concentrate on the easy to view multitude of life in that
little drop of water.
If the little drops of water from weeks old pond water samples can
hold a persons interest, the explosion of life Spring offers is
simply astounding. Sitting here in the cold winter of 2005 I'm constantly
recalling some of the excitement the first couple samples of fresh
algae offered in the Spring of 2004 and am looking forward to this
Don Williams mentioned his Vaseline sealed slides (Yahoo Microscope
Group, editor's note) it reminded me of similar instructions in
one of the books on viewing protozoa and I prepared a slide to store
in a Petri dish. By keeping a moist cloth in the bottom of the dish
and the slide elevated slightly, supposedly the small amount of
water under the cover slip would not dry out as fast as usual. After
a couple days the results were good and soon I had a slide sitting
in front of four of my jars.
After taking at least a quick peek at each of the slides every night
for a week it seemed to be a good way to keep samples ready to view
at any time. On January 27th I was excited to see my first amoeba
and after spending a couple hours on this one slide I found a total
of six. Each of the following nights the quantity increased until
I counted over seventy on the fifth night. On the sixth night I
could only find about half as many and after nine days even though
other creatures were still abundant not one single amoeba could
and photography copyright Tim Bolinger 2005. All rights reserved