Renita’s Bedtime Story

Renita Boyle

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 connected to stories and storytelling. This week’s introduction to her story video has all the right ingredients to make us feel full, relaxed and happy:

My autumn voiced mother is well known for her beautiful and abundant gardens burgeoning with flowers and vegetables of every kind – and a fair few fairies and gnomes too! She is happiest when she is digging in the dirt and making things grow. When homesickness gets the better of me, I think of her there. She is also well known for the amazing pies she makes from the literal fruit of her labour. 

I have many garden memories of my Mom. This one has to be my favourite – the morning my Mom and my (then) young son made strawberry and rhubarb pie together. Here is a glimpse …

Making a pie from three cups of summer:

Wake early, in the cool of the day – the sun a freshly cracked yolk over the red barn. 

Find one ripened Grandma and one Grandson in the fourth year of bloom and combine them in the kitchen. Open the doors and windows and aerate with rose blossom and birdsong. 

Remove yesterday’s strawberries from the fridge. You’ll find them heaped in the green Pyrex bowl you recognise from your own childhood. Remember picking strawberries with your own Grandma on just such a morning. 

Cut the tops off the strawberries with a wooden handled paring knife and share them with the Grandma and the Grandson. Make sure to eat as many as you will use, but not as many as you did yesterday fresh from the patch. Dip them in sugar. Add a bit of Cool Whip. Drink an ice-cold cup of milk. You need energy for making pie.

You will also need space. Move the cookie jar, farm and seed catalogues, quilting magazines and junk mail off the counter. Wash the counter. Listen to the Grandma and the Grandson chatter about everything and nothing. 

Leave your shoes on the step and head for the rhubarb patch. You will find it among the purple phlox and sweet peas climbing on an old bed spring under the windmill. Hold hands across the generations and swing the Grandson high into the dappled sky.

Pull out the rhubarb stalks and cut off the leaves. Answer many questions about worms and butterflies and ants and June bugs.

Let the Grandson carry the stalks back to the kitchen, holding them across outstretched arms like firewood in winter. They will be all the better if they are dropped and picked up several times along the way. 

Take the longest route possible to the kitchen – through the gardens, past the guppied pond full of tadpoles. Rest a lot along the way, swing on the swing on the old oak tree. Smell the roses. Pick a tomato. Watch a bee. 

Climb the steps with your bare wet feet, hear the screen door slam shut behind you.

Sit the stalks on the table and strip them until smooth and clinging like love. Season with a good visit about favourite superheroes and pirates; the secrets of homemade piecrust.

Dice the rhubarb into a Melmac bowl, generations of pie makers old. Mix three cups of summer in a large bowl – two of strawberries and one of rhubarb. 

Leave the Grandma and the Grandson to get on with the secret family recipe while you savour the joy between them; reap the abundance and look forward to a slice of pie!

And may you reap the abundance of tonight’s tale.

Settle down and cosy in
Now our story can begin

Grow Turnip Grow!

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