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  • Writer's pictureHelen Row Toews

Prairie Wool


Are you the sort of person that likes garage sales? Auctions? Flea markets? Do you hunt for bargains in the cut-price bin at the grocery store, or only buy items when they’re on sale? If you said yes to any of the above, then perhaps you also scan the highways and byways for stuff that accidentally falls from the back of a truck or is otherwise discarded and lost. I know a man who does just that. His name is Darin Porochnavy, and he is—a Master Finder.

According to his lovely wife, Ronda, Darin’s mantra could be, Cheap is good. Free is better. She often shares photographic evidence of Darin’s latest treasures. This is where I first heard of his unusual hobby. Let me tell you about it.

His story began, as many do, outside a grocery store on Christmas Eve with the discovery of an English cucumber. I’m joking. I’ve never heard of a story that began with the sighting of a cucumber in a parking lot, particularly the night before a major holiday. However, it was when Ronda started noticing the joy Darin got from finding treasures. 

He went on to spy a 25-foot, 3-prong extension cord, a working theatre popcorn machine, and the heavy equipment necessary to cut keys. These were picked up and faithfully stored away along with many other exciting items, such as a Ski-Doo helmet, a massive tarpaulin worth $75, and enough underlay to carpet a house. “Daddy wins!” said Darin with a broad grin as he carried these objects into his garage.

To name only a few items, he’s found crutches, a trailer jack, fence posts, a wheelchair, several garbage cans, a length of 4-inch PVC pipe, and most recently, a sixteen-foot 2x4 lying in the middle of the Yellowhead Highway. With pride, Darin was quoted as saying, “Only need about 49 more, and I can build a shed.”

His wife reports that when Darin makes a find, he feels it’s a great day to be alive. And his excitement is catching. Ronda admitted to me that—while alone in the car—of her own volition, she pulled over to examine the contents of an old barrel that had blown across the road. Sadly, all it contained were leaves, but it could have been great!

Clearly, there are countless benefits to anyone possessing this super-finding power. Yet Darin doesn’t keep this bounty for himself. Instead, if he can’t use the items, he shares the wealth by giving things away to those who can use them or those in need. For instance, the bucket of deep-fried chicken he found by the side of the road was awarded to a pack of hungry cats. (That may or may not be the best example, but you must admit it’s interesting).

However, of all the tales I’ve heard, the best was of a pair of ladies’ spectacles found in a back alley near his home. After a cursory polish, he tried them on. Lo and behold, they were his exact prescription! Can you beat that? 

Despite Ronda’s belief that he now bears an eerie resemblance to Mrs. Beasley, a bespectacled doll created in the late 60s, Darin wears the glasses daily. 

I’d have to say the man has a gift. Those are indeed some pretty great treasures.

Find Helen online at for more stories and information on books that would make great Christmas gifts!

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