Renita Boyle (an almost Autumn Voice) is best known to young fans as a Tale-Telling, Tongue-Twisting Troubadour, Picture Book author and Poetry Pixie. Her appeal spans the generations. She is a previous winner of the Wigtown Poetry Prize in Scots, and Resident Storyteller for the Wigtown Festival Company for whom she hosts Book at Bedtime and Cosy as a Hug for YA/Adult audiences. She is Lead Reader for Open Book, facilitating shared reading and creative writing groups for over 60s. She regularly offers wellbeing workshops which combine storytelling, poetry and art, and mentors those interested in writing memoir and legacy letters.
Renita is a committee member for the Scottish Storytelling Forum and for LAPIDUS, is former Patron of Reading at SJP in Renfrew, and Scottish Book Trust Reader-in-Residence for DG Libraries. She is a proud ‘WisconiScot’, having grown up in the wilds of Wisconsin and now living under the wild wide skies of Wigtown. You can discover more here:
Renita has kindly offered us some of her bedtime stories to help us nod off to sleep this month. She normally reads them to young children, but we think bedtime stories are for everyone, so either share this with someone to help them fall asleep or keep it all to yourself!
As a preface to each week’s bedtime story (link below), Renita shares her thoughts and experiences of stories and storytelling:
Renita’s Bedtime Story
My Great Grandma Bess was an amazing seamstress. She sewed every quilt she ever made by hand with near perfect stitches – even when her eyesight failed. My sister and I often played under her large quilting frame as the autumn voiced women of her quilting Bee gathered round to tie their quilts and visit.
How I wish now that I had paid more attention to the stories pieced together with the common threads of their lives: memories of their mothers and grandmothers; their own experiences of childbirth and loss, raising families and letting go, navigating marriages, divorces, death and loneliness; facing ageing bodies and changing times; sharing wisdom and expanding dreams for their own daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters that were out of reach to them.
Despite appearances, these autumn voiced women were anything but frail. They were feisty, funny and formidable for the hands that did the sewing, raising, cleaning, cooking and often the milking too. They shared common joys and common tears when voices softened to a whisper because ‘little ears were listening.’ They shared a common love that was stitched into the fabric of the quilt made for me.
Sadly, I no longer have the quilt that kept me warm those Wisconsin winters during my childhood and teens. I do, however, feel covered by generational love, comfort, courage and hope.
I have something else precious from my Great Grandma Bess though – a wee Santa pillow which I discovered her making one day when I popped in to see her after school. It was near Christmas and the only thing Great Grandma Bess seemed to love more than quilting was Christmas. Every nook was adorned in green, red and gold tinsel; the tree laden with lights and homemade decorations with an angel on top; the kitchen smelled like fresh baked cookies and the kettle on the stove sang when the chocolate was hot. The house looked every bit like Santa’s workshop and Great Grandma Bess like a busy elf. Indeed, that is what I came to believe after that Christmas morning when the lovely Santa pillow I caught my Grandma secretly making appeared under my tree as a gift from Santa himself. I don’t think I have ever truly outgrown the notion that my Great Grandma Bess was actually Santa’s seamstress.
And though it may be August, I am in mind of Christmas and the story which gave Great Grandma Bess delight from her own childhood.
So, settle down and cosy in.
Now our story can begin.
Have Renita’s tales made you think about sleep? Why not write about your thoughts for our last series of CLANGERS on sleep.