Posted by: Rachael | July 4, 2008

almost two decades ago…..

…this can was bought by an American couple in Poland.

What on earth is in it?
Why do we have it?
After all these years?
And why would I be blogging about it?

We lived in Krakow, what must arguably be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, if you put aside the nuclear fallout from Cherynobyl and the usual day-to-day pollution, which prompted a guidebook writer to suggest tourists spend no more than four days there. Lucky we weren’t tourists – coz we were there for two years!

Anyway, our American friends had Polish friends, who owned an allotment out in the country. They weren’t going to use it that particular summer and so we headed out there after work, with tools and seeds and lots of good intention to grow our own vegetables. The first hole we dug was for the toilet. That accomplished, we squished into the cabin (this is a very generous word for the garden shed in which we were to sleep that weekend) and prepared dinner by candlelight (nothing romantic, just there was no electricity). We didn’t open the can that night. My memory fails me, but I suspect we ate bread, cheese and salami (like every other night).

The next day is remembered by us for only one thing. Baby Joshie (who has just turned eighteen and has graduated from High School) spent the morning playing in his portacot in the shade of a tree while the rest of us toiled in the sunshine. Towards midday, Suzie and I carried the cot back to the shed. That sounds so simple. In reality, we set of carrying the cot (simple so far), but then Suzie, who was at the front, let out an almighty shriek and took off like lightning. I was at the back and held on for dear life as we screamed across the uneven turf. I should never have looked down. But if I hadn’t I might just have stepped on the snake, instead of managing to jump over it, portacot in my hands, heart in my mouth. Now I don’t know what kind of snake it was, but to a girl who came from a country with no snakes at all, poisonous or otherwise, it was a scary thing. And even the bravest soul would have trembled at Suzie’s cry!
After that I was less than keen to use our carefully constructed outdoor toilet.

If it weren’t for the can, that would be the sum total of my recollections of that weekend. I don’t even remember if we harvested any veges! But there was the can.

We knew it was chicken *something*. We knew it was “in sauce” and that it was “spicy”. Not hungry enough that weekend to eat the something-bit-that-we-were-not-certain-about, it returned to Krakow with us. Who knows why we hadn’t learnt the word for giblets in our first year in Poland, but there you have it, we hadn’t. I doubt we’ll ever forget it now 😉

That American couple was not up for eating chicken giblets.
So they gave us the can.
When we returned to their place a week later to look after Joshie, we left the can behind in their pantry. They visited us and left it in Rob’s slippers. We left it under their washing pile. They hid it in our bed. We put it in their flour bin. They stuck it on top of our toilet cistern (which at eight feet up in the air, was no mean feat!). And on the saga went. Secrets. Diversion. Distraction. While the can was hidden. 

I don’t remember if we brought it to New Zealand….but at the end of the day we somehow ended up with it in our pantry. There were too many memories attached to it to throw it out.

The past couple of weeks we’ve been able to make some more memories. Dan and Suzie have been in New Zealand and concluded their trip with a few days at our place. Guess what they found under their pillow the first night. They hid it carefully, but they weren’t to know that J13 would wonder why the spare toilet paper basket didn’t look quite right….. So then it disappeared under Dan’s hat…….we weren’t to know he would shift his hat a few hours before leaving….and the hunt was on. Nothing secret this time. Behind a candle. Back in Dan’s pile. Onto the kitchen bench in full view of everybody.

Their parting words at the airport were, “Let us know when you find it.”

L7 was the victor. Even before they had touched down at home. They weren’t to know L7‘s favourite books are TinTins at the moment….

Some more memories made. Blogged and not forgotten. Unlike the very faint Dan handwriting on the can. It says: for Big Men and little women. Everyone remembers there WAS a joke. Noone remembers what it was about! But we won’t forget this trip.



  1. Great story.

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