In which we celebrate holidays with yet another small story

Darkness isn't the only thing difficult about winter in the Swampland.  

Though it doesn't often sn*w (and we curse it when it does), winters here is cold and cold that even the moon gets chilled.  This is a story about that.

A coat for the moon (Poland)

Once upon a time the moon said to the sun," It isn't fair that you get to shine during the day when it's warm, while I have to shine during the night when it's cold, especially in the winter."

The sun saw that the moon was unhappy, and said, "I shall have a coat made to keep you warm, and I will give this coat to you as a gift."

So the sun called together the big tailors of the city, those who were very rich and made clothing for rich people. The sun asked the big tailors to make a coat for the moon, one that would keep her warm even on the coldest nights.

The big tailors sat down together to discuss making the coat, but no matter how hard they tried, they couldn't figure out how to do it. The problem was that the moon was sometimes small and sometimes big. A coat that would fit when the moon was small would be too tight when the moon was big. And a coat that would fit when the moon was big would be too large when the moon was small.

After a while, the big tailors gave up. They didn't know how to make a coat for the moon.

"Let us try!" begged the little tailors, those who were poor, and made clothing for poor people. But when the big tailors heard this, they laughed and said, "If we can't make a coat for the moon, how can you?"

But the little tailors were not about to give up. They had many ideas, but no one could solve the problem of making a coat to fit the changing sizes of the moon.

And so they sat silently for a long time. At last, the smallest, poorest tailor of them all stood up. "What we need is a material that is very light, so that it can stretch. I have been thinking that the clouds in the sky would make a perfect coat for the moon."

Now the little tailors listened carefully, and they agreed that the clouds would be a good material, one that could stretch enough to be a coat for the moon. But there was a problem. "The clouds are high up in the sky. We'll never be able to climb high enough to reach them."

And all the little tailors nodded when they heard this, except that littlest tailor. He stood up and cried: "I know how!"

"How?" they asked, all at the same time.

He reminded them that sometimes clouds come down to earth. And when they do, they are called fog. The little tailors need only wait until a cloud came down one day, and when it did, they should be ready to cut and sew a coat for the moon. And then when the fog lifted and the cloud rose up, it would surround the moon and keep her warm.

Now all the tailors stood up and clapped their hands. Yes, this smallest of the little tailors had shown them how to make a coat for the moon! And just think of what the big tailors would say when they learned that! So the little tailors rejoiced until one of them, who had a sour face, said, "Yes? And how can something as thin and light as a cloud keep the moon warm?" and when he said this, a hush fell upon the little tailors. The tailor with the sour face was right. The cloud wasn't heavy enough to be a warm coat for the moon.

So again the tailors sat down, their hands on their chins, pondering how to solve the problem. Suddenly the smallest tailor leaped to his feet and cried out: "I know how!"

"How?" they asked, all at the same time.

"We'll sew some stars into the cloud," he explained, "and those stars will keep the moon warm with their wonderful light."

The little tailors began to cheer when they heard these words, for once again, the problem had been solved. All the tailors agreed, except for the one with the sour face. He hushed everyone and said in his sour voice, "Yes? And how are we going to get stars to sew into the cloud?" And when he said this, the smiles of the tailors turned to frowns, for they hadn't considered this problem.

Again there was a long silence. But that littlest tailor was full of ideas that day, and soon he leaped up and cried: "I know how!"

"How?" they asked, all at the same time.

"Stars aren't to be found only in the sky," he told them. "We all know that there are also stars floating in the river. Let us catch those stars and sew them into the fog. We'll all go together on a night when the fog rests near the shore of the river, and from our friends, the blacksmiths, we'll borrow bellows — those big pumps they use to make the fire blow higher. Then we'll blow the fog into the river, where it will pick up the stars on its own. When the fog floats back up into the sky and becomes a cloud again, it will take the stars with it. And that way the moon will have a coat to keep her warm, even on the coldest nights."

The little tailors jumped with joy, and not even the sour-faced tailor had anything to say.

They waited for a night when a big cloud came down to earth as fog, and settled on the shore of the river. Then, all the little tailors came together, carrying the bellows they had borrowed from the blacksmiths. With the bellows they blew and blew until they blew the fog over the river. And when it floated on the water, stars stuck to it on every side.

When the fog finally lifted and became a cloud again, the little tailors saw that it surrounded the moon on every side and that a cluster of stars could be seen surrounding her as well.

It seemed to them that the moon was smiling that night. At last she had a coat that could grow as big and small as she did — one that could keep her warm, even on the coldest nights.

Anyone who looks up into the sky will see it, for the moon wears that special coat to this very day.

The sun was well pleased with the gift, and it paid the little tailors with three sunny days in the middle of winter—days so bright and warm and lovely that all the people of the town still talk about them to this very day.


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