Marzanna is a Slavic goddess associated with death, winter and nightmares. There is a custom in Poland to see out the end of winter by “doing a Guy Fawkes” with an effigy of this goddess and, surprisingly, it has taken me nearly 15 years to partake in such a ritual.

I have no idea if it works for death and nightmares by the way and judging by the ice on the car yesterday it carries no guarantees for winter either!

Piotr told us where to go via convoluted directions involving Łomianki, going to the end of various streets, heading for a dyke and ultimately trying to find GPS coordinates while driving along ruts in the mud. We found the place. One of those typical Wisła bankside locations typified by a river, a bank and trees. The kids immediately buggered off to the other side to hunt beaver.

Judging by the damage they had done to the trees there were plenty of big ones to hunt for (beaver, not kids). This large tree hanging by a thread. Wonder if the beavers get fined massive amounts for felling trees like we do? Must take a particularly brave beaver to nibble that last bit. Not the fastest or nimblest of animals, beavers, at least not the ones I’ve seen, so hard to see how it would avoid the splat when the tree does actually drop.

A bonfire was lit, the picnic baskets opened and we started roasting kiełbaski, bread and whatever else we could find. Everyone had meant to bring some ogórki but nobody actually had brought any. This was bad karma. As is often the case, the sausages fell off the improvised sausage-holders (sticks) and so the food took on either an ashen or soiled flavour depending on where it dropped. No matter. That’s what the great outdoors is all about. We set traps for bears, sliced open a moose or two and then went back to the matter of torching a goddess.

Here is said goddess, not looking all that worried despite being incapable of running away thanks to having a pole shoved up her whatsit and incredibly short and deformed legs.

Attempts to torch the mini-goddess failed to do anything other than empty my zippo. Methinks she was made from inflammable materials.

So, onto the main event and after liberally dousing with rocket fuel she was ready to burn.

At the appropriate time, i.e. just before any of the kids catch fire, chuck her in the river and it’s goodbye winter – hello spring!

All that remained was to extinguish the fire, throw the moose in the trunk and head home stinking of smoke!


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