Listen to The Little Shoemaker’s Garden
Read The Little Shoemaker’s Garden
It all started once upon a time, as all fairy tales do. The Shoemaker had lived happily for many years in his little house that was at the end of a long and narrow road. People used to travel up and down the long narrow road whenever they needed to get their shoes repaired or on a very special occasion to order a new pair of shoes.
Oftentimes they would even make up excuses to visit the little Shoemaker. Maybe a stone had gotten lodged in their shoe and had worn a small hole in the leather? So, of course, they had to visit.
On their visits, they enjoyed the long walk to the little house. It was always filled with the lushest green foliage, and there was never a day that the birds didn’t sing from early morning till late evening.
Once arriving at the Shoemaker’s house, they found the most beautiful garden anyone had ever seen. But it was also very special as it was the most peaceful of gardens as well. The Shoemaker was not only excellent at making shoes but had a very special gift. The gift of green fingers. He could make anything grow, and he did.
Every spare second that he was not working, he was in his garden, watering plants, talking to plants, planting plants. But most of all, peacefully sitting and marvelling at his garden slowly growing. It was often in this position, on his favourite wooden garden bench, that people found him. They would nod at him as they slowly reached the garden gate, and he would stand up as they let themselves in.
Of course, they would have to have tea in the garden before any matter of work was discussed. The little Shoemaker was a man of few words. But no one ever felt uncomfortable in his company, for whatever was said was always relevant and if it wasn’t, it wasn’t said. So quietly and peacefully, all of his customers would sit in the garden sipping their tea before ever handing over their shoes. And when they did, it was at least another week before they saw them again, but they didn’t mind as it gave them an excuse to come back.
But that was then before all the lush foliage was torn up and the earth was moved, and the houses arrived. The houses with shiny green and red doors and picnic sized blankets of grass in front of them. These houses now lined the long walk to the little Shoemaker’s house. The birds had also stopped singing all day and could now only be heard early in the morning. This upset the little Shoemaker, but he consoled himself by tending his garden and making sure that his plants were not too upset by what had happened to their neighbours. Sitting in his garden, watching his plants grow, the little Shoemaker sighed. What was he to do?
Since the houses had arrived and with them, the cars no one walked to his house with shoes anymore, they drove. The quicker they arrived, the quicker they wanted the work done, and the little Shoemaker could no longer keep up. Until one day, no one came any more, not to get their shoes repaired and definitely not to get a pair of shoes made. With bills to pay and the rest of his life in front of him, the little Shoemaker didn’t know what to do. He would have to find a job in one of the big buildings that made shoes quickly, and maybe they would think he was too old to be making shoes? His heart became sad when he thought of leaving his little garden alone.
This bought a single solitary tear to his eye, the first tear he had ever shed, he silently brushed it away, and it fell to the ground. Deciding that come the morning, he would have to find a job. Any job. Then for the first time in years, he went to bed early to prepare himself for his task.
Unbeknownst to the little Shoemaker, as he settled his head on the pillow for the night to sleep, the garden woke up. His tear had carried his thoughts, and as it was absorbed by the piece of grass where it fell, it became aware of the dept of the Shoemaker’s turmoil. Quickly the grass whispered to their neighbours and then they to theirs until eventually, the whole garden knew.
What were they to do? Surely they could not live without the little Shoemaker, but he could not live without his work. Panic filled the garden. Flowers fainted and wilted, the grass instantly started to go bald in patches.
Heaven only knows how far it would have gone if the roses had not intervened. The most majestic of the roses that sat in the centre of the bush slowly started to speak and called a halt to the panic.
‘Something simply must be done,’ she said.
‘But what?’ chorused the entire garden?
‘It’s clear,’ she paused before announcing firmly, ‘We must start growing shoes.’
‘But that’s impossible,’ whispers ran through the garden.
‘No more impossible than it was for the little shoemaker to cultivate all of us,’ the Rose replied.
Whispers again sprung from every corner of the garden, this time ending in a final and resounding, ‘Yes, we can.’
So throughout the entire night, as the little Shoemaker slept soundly on his pillow, the garden grew and grew until by the morning, they had grown thirty pairs of the most beautiful shoes you had ever seen. The Shoemaker woke early just as the last pair of shoes popped onto the lawn. A deep sadness hugged his heart as he boiled the kettle for his morning tea, and he sighed loudly and deeply. Tea made, he prepared himself to spend his last morning in the garden without having to rush somewhere. As he opened the door, he suddenly saw the thirty pairs of shoes in the middle of his lawn. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He could sell them to the shop in town, and that would stop some of his problems for now.
Quickly he loaded up his bag and set off, returning by mid-morning, having sold all of the shoes. Relieved, he sat down peacefully in his garden.
The money for the shoes would only last him one month, but for now, that was enough. After spending a long afternoon and evening in his garden, the little Shoemaker peacefully retired to bed.
Again the whole garden woke up. As the Shoemaker’s head hit the pillow busily, they started to grow more new shoes, they collectively knew a month was not a long time, and they wanted to keep the little Shoemaker with them forever. This time as the dawn was breaking, they had grown sixty pairs of shoes. The little Shoemaker again awoke early and again was shocked by the appearance of double the amount of shoes on his lawn.
This time he filled two bags with the shoes and headed for the shop in town. As luck would have it, there was an unusually large demand for shoes the previous day, and all of his shoes had sold.
When the shopkeeper saw the little Shoemaker walking into town with the two large bags, he ran out to greet him. ‘I’ll take them all,’ he said instantly, shocking the little Shoemaker.
‘But you took thirty pairs yesterday,’ the little Shoemaker replied.
‘And they have all sold,’ the shopkeeper smiled broadly.
He then took all of the shoes and paid the little Shoemaker quite handsomely. Stating that he would from then on take all of the little Shoemaker’s shoes he had to offer. The little Shoemaker pondered over the events of the past two days as he slowly walked home. But he didn’t worry too much as he now had enough money for three months. He again spent the afternoon and evening with his beautiful garden, and only late into the night did he retire to bed.
Over the next few weeks, the same sequence of events repeated themselves, with sixty pairs of shoes appearing on the lawn every morning and the Shoemaker selling them all to the shopkeeper during the day.
The shoes had become very popular with Movie stars and Popstars buying them as quickly as they arrived in the shop, and the little Shoemaker finally had enough money to live without any worries. He could now spend all of his time in his beautiful little garden, which is exactly what he did. But as the weeks wore on, he noticed that the garden by the corners was starting to wilt, and no matter what fertiliser he used or how much he spoke to it, it never got any better. This deeply troubled him, now that he had no money worries; his most precious thing in the world was dying before his eyes.
He sat in the garden all through the afternoon and on into the evening, unable to bring himself to leave it that night. He decided there, and then he was going to sleep outside from now on with his beloved little garden.
Falling into a deep sleep, he was suddenly roused by a strange noise. The garden had come alive and was talking to itself, then from out of nowhere, a single solitary shoe popped up out from the centre of the lawn. As soon as the Shoemaker saw this, he jumped up and shouted, ‘stop.’
There was silence.
‘It was you, all of this time,’ tears were in the little Shoemaker’s eyes ‘you, my beloved garden, you are growing me shoes.’
The once majestic Rose that had sat at the centre of the now wilting rose bush slowly raised her head and said ‘yes.’
‘But don’t you see what it is doing to you?’
‘We had to help you,’ the Rose whispered, ‘We didn’t want you to leave us’.
‘I could never do that,’ sighed the little Shoemaker as he fell to his knees, ‘but don’t you see that you are leaving me?’
‘We would never leave you, don’t you see how much we love you?’ The entire garden chorused together.
Tears filled the little Shoemaker’s eyes, not tears of sadness but tears of love, and as they dropped onto the grass, the love they carried brought life in all its strength to the ailing garden.
The centre rose lifted her wilted head and blossomed, whispering to the little Shoemaker, ‘lookup, it’s all going to be ok.’
The Shoemaker slowly stood and watched in awe as his garden came back to life, blooming more spectacularly than ever before.
‘But how?’ he asked.
‘Love is a very strong medicine,’ the Rose replied as she glistened in the moonlight.
‘It is,’ replied the little Shoemaker, ‘it absolutely is.’
As time went on, the garden and the little Shoemaker reached a compromise, and only one pair of shoes was grown every night. But that was more than enough, as only Movie stars wear them now, and they have more money than sense.
So the little Shoemaker never needs to worry about money. The garden is always in blossom, and they all live happily ever after.