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Stone Soup

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Stone soup: an old, Eastern European fable and fantasy questions. This method teaches us how to mobilize our imagination with fantasy questions, and how to generate ideas from those fantasies.

The following fable of the stone soup has been told and written down in different variants: The autumn wind had turned cold and the leaves of the trees were colorful. The red and yellow glowed as if the leaves had stored the sunlight and were now slowly releasing it. The fields were dotted with golden pumpkins and the apples on the trees were so red that you could almost smell their sweet juice.

The barefoot beggar’s clothes were torn, his hair disheveled. His mouth watered when he smelled the aroma of smoked meat from the village. He had not eaten for two days. Hungry, he built a fire at the edge of the village, put his cauldron on it and placed a small stone in it. “Just imagine,” he says to himself, “you could make a delicious soup out of this stone.” He sat down on a box and pretended to actually cook soup.

The curious people came out of the village and gathered around his little fire. They asked him what he was cooking, and he told them about the magic stone that could be used to make delicious soup. “Stone soup tastes best after the first frost,” he explained to them.

The villagers were fascinated by his soup and began to comment on the fine aroma. The beggar invited them to keep him company. The delighted villagers said they would contribute their own dinner to complete a gourmet meal together.

They returned with vegetables, fruit, poultry, ham and sausages. “Let us pray,” spoke the village priest. The beggar thought to himself, “I pray the food doesn’t get cold until he’s done.” Then the beggar made himself over the food.

He ate from everything that was served as if there was no tomorrow. He speared four boiled eggs on his knife and devoured them with four slices of fried ham. He cut two thick slices of turkey meat and shoveled them into his mouth, stuffing some cooked potatoes and beans after them. He then tore off a large piece of buttered bread and ate that too.

He seemed oblivious to the fact that the villagers were spooning bowl after bowl of his wonderful soup while he ate everything within reach – including half a strawberry shortcake.

When he finished, he sat motionless for a few moments. Finally he got up, packed his stone and left. He left the village without so much as a backward glance.

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