The kids all came home last weekend and it is always so nice to see the little ones interacting, with each other and with their Uncles and Aunties. It nice too to have some adult time with their Mums and Dads, and share the load a little. Ten little ones under eight now, and ten adults is no mean feat to sort beds and food for, but jobs are shared and it’s never too hard.
We had to work all weekend, which meant Gilbert and I had limited time with them all but they had some lovely R&R together by all accounts. I had a cunning plan for the kids and was so excited at the prospect of sharing it with them.
I had a set of replica old keys and had heard this idea from someone else. I decided it would be perfect for this weekend. So I made a note and tried to make the text and script like ‘old style’. I wrote it out at work and Lindy instructed me in how to make a note look old. First we ran a match down its sides to make them uneven and darkened and at one point it caught fire and we were laughing so much there was a moment when I thought we may have lost it to the wind. Then I grabbed a spare herbal teabag from my bag and tried to stain the paper as Lindy explained to me between customers. She shook her head when she asked what sort of teabag it was, and ran off coming back with a good old gum boot bag in hot water, gently dabbing it in places making the letters run a little, which made for a very satisfactory aged finish indeed.
Then I hunted for an old bottle and found the perfect one on the shelves at work. I wrapped the note in a length of twine and dangled that out so it could be retrieved before pushing the glass stopper in. Once home I slipped into the hen run which was well dug up with the rain, and popped it into a muddy gap under the roots of the tree within their pen.
Next job was to tuck the keys into an old rusting tobacco tin. Oh yes I had one of those too! I nipped up to the native area where the front gate used to be and slipped it to the side of the fence with just the red lines visible.
The weather was so Auckland, with heavy squally showers breaking through sunny patches so lovely it was hard to believe it might rain again. But rain it did, all weekend.
Sunday afternoon, after work I asked who wanted to help me move the hens to their new pen and tidy out the old. I explained sometimes they dig up old stuff and I just give it a tidy before I shut it up for a month. Boots and jackets on, we were a rabble heading down there, until Wheriko squealed with delight that she had found a bottle and it had something in it. You could feel the excitement in the air with the two older ones, while the rest were a little oblivious as to what exactly an old bottle in the hen run could even mean.
We read the note…line by line as the excitement grew. The younger ones starting to catch on that something was happening, but not quite sure what. Wheriko hearing the word ‘gate’ tore off down to the orchard to the nearest gate and started to rummage around in the grass. The rest of the kids fell to their knees and followed her lead till Milan said…”hang on a minute, if this note was written a long time ago…he paused till he had everyone’s attention. His hands up, scanning the horizon he mused. We have to think about what was here then. Maybe this gate wasn’t here”. Wow. I was wondering how I was going to get them to the front gate and we had limited time now, the dark clouds were threatening another heavy shower.
“Milan you’re right! I called, Of course everything could have been different then. You know the front gate was in a different place to where it is now?” They all sat up and began to take notice, unsure what exactly that meant, but Milan was onto it. “Where was it?” he asked seriously. Eyes wide imploring me. “It was up there on the other side,” I answered, but had hardly finished before they were off like rockets with the little ones screaming with delight behind the two older ones, still with no idea what was happening.
Wheriko was into the game, digging up clumps of mud and throwing aside great armfuls of leaves like a madman, the others following suit. Tai had grabbed his toy spade and was happily digging a hole completely unaware of the others efforts and Milan was hypothesizing the ‘what ifs’. “Hey guys, Wait a minute. We’ve got to imagine this without trees, Without buildings, What would it have looked like, What could have been here. Was it a barn or a castle ?”, he guessed out loud with his hand up to his chin, showing a face deep in thought. No one was listening, leaves were flying everywhere when with a little guiding Maire stumbled upon a small red, rusty tin. She bought it out and everyone crowded around while Milan was still talking on the other side. “We’ve got to think about who was living here, what did they do while they were here.? Was it covered with water? Maybe it was a shipyard.”
“Ahhhh Milan, They’ve found something!”. “What? Oh, The keys!” he exclaimed as it started to drizzle. “Oh well Kids, I’m going to start dinner so you guys can go and see if you can find a door that these keys open… ” I said as I moved back to the house, and they raced off with the little ones still unsure what the hang was going on as they followed dutifully.
As we sat down to dinner later, they told us about all the doors they had tried and Milan was sure the keys might open a trunk or box or something like that, as he surveyed the house and began trying them in everything that had a keyhole. “Nanny, Milan asked, Can I have another look at the note from in bottle. I need to think about the words. I have to solve this, he told me seriously. I want to be a detective when I grow up so this is good practise”. Well Milan, you had the most clues my boy. The most clues by far, and you just might make a great detective one day after all.
There was no answer to this riddle, in case you are wondering. The keys opened nothing, except a mystery that might go on for a good while yet! I’m rather looking forward to hearing some more on the subject and it might perhaps be rekindled each time they come here, as they ponder where these keys came from. In the meantime I have hung them up in the kitchen so the mystery can be shared over and over.
PostScript: Wheriko told me her and Milan have been wondering if we should get a private detective, after all there may be some buried treasure here somewhere! Hahaha!