Melissa McGroartyMay 9, 2020
Each Winter we sit around our kitchen table passed down from my grandmother and retell one of our favourite folktales: Stone Soup, a beautiful story about sharing, community and togetherness.
To add to our store we create felted stones which become part of our Winter nature table, the foundation of which is “earth”. It’s not uncommon to find a pot of soup bubbling away on the stove as we craft together and tell the story of the Stone Soup, the story is written after the instructions for you to share with your own family.
One day, a traveler was passing through a village. Times were hard, and people were not particularly warm or hospitable to strangers, as they were poor. Hardly anyone responded to the traveler’s hearty greeting or to his cheery attitude. Unfazed by the lukewarm reception, he sat down in a corner and got busy. He took out a large iron pot, whistling a merry tune as he did so. He proceeded to light a fire. He filled the pot with water. While waiting for the water to boil, he made a big to-do about taking a knife, a soup ladle, and a polished stone, whistling all the while. All this activity attracted the attention of passersby.
“What are you cooking?” asked a curious onlooker.
“Stone soup, ” was the cheerful reply.
“Stone soup! I’ve never heard of such a thing,” said another.
“Stick around and have some when it’s done,” was the warm response.
A crowd was starting to gather around the traveler, curious about the so-called stone soup. He continued to whistle away as he dropped the stone into the huge pot of water.
Finally, the water started to boil. The traveler took his ladle and took a sip of the soup.
“How does it taste?” asked a voice from the crowd.
“It tastes good,” said the traveler, ” but it would taste even better if it had a couple of potatoes,” he added wistfully.
“I have some potatoes,” volunteered an elderly lady. She came forward and handed them over to the traveler. He peeled and chopped them expertly, and added them to the soup. Then he took another sip.
He declared it the best stone soup ever, but conceded that it would taste even better if it had carrots in it.
“I think I have some carrots somewhere ” said a man who was watching the whole thing. He ran home and quickly came back with a handful, which he handed over to the traveler.
The traveler continued to stir his concoction. Every time he would taste the soup, he would smack his lips and declare it the best ever, but would add that it would taste better if only it had this ingredient or that. Cries of “I have leftover meat,” or “I have some onions,” “salt,” “pepper,” etc, rang through the crowd.
People offered all kinds of stuff from their garden or pantry in the hope that the soup would taste better.
In the meantime, the waiting crowd sat down, exchanged pleasantries and even played music. Everyone agreed that it was the most fun they’ve had in a long time. Pretty soon, the soup was starting to smell really good. The traveler took another sip of the soup and declared it done. He ladled generous servings of it into bowls and handed them around.
Everyone thanked the traveler for the marvellous stone soup and asked him for the secret. The traveler revealed to them that it was not the stone that made the soup taste good, but all the other ingredients that everyone contributed. He added that in life, as in the case of the soup, if everyone pitched in a little something, a wondrous thing will come out of such an undertaking. The villagers thanked the traveler again for his words of wisdom. From that time on, the villagers became kinder and more helpful to one another. So the traveler, satisfied, went on his merry way, determined more than ever to share the secret of his stone soup to anyone who cared to listen.
Mandi has worked in the community welfare and counselling sector for 20 years with families and individuals using social work, creative counselling modalities and expressive therapies. Over the past few years she has worked as a private counsellor specialising in spiritual direction, Jungian sand play and transpersonal counselling whilst caring for her three young children. She’s a workshop facilitator and board member for a non-for-profit organisation Madetocreate leading children and adult seasonal workshops and all day retreats. And holds a Children’s seasonal nature workshop on Saturday mornings at the farm Organic Empire in Wandin. Her passion lies in creating an environment for children and individuals to explore their creativity, observe how the seasons can teach us and creating new ways to live a more creative intentional life.
You can catch her on Instagram @thepoppyfox
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