“Do you know” Peter asked, “why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories” – Peter Pan.
Bedtime stories told by a loving parent or grandparent while children listen and become sleepy eyed. That is why swallows build nests in the eaves of houses.
Poor swallows they must be very disappointed for in most houses today the I-pad, the TV or even the smart phone is the story teller.
Storytelling is one of the earliest ways of communication used by mankind. People are essentially social creatures, created to live in communication and emotional contact with others. Listening to a character driven story together with others creates an emotional bond due to the fact that the brain produces oxytocin under these circumstances. On the other hand if a story is told by a technological device, less oxytocin is produced and the brain is less active in the interpretation of the story.
So let me tell you a story,going back about 50 years.
In a small town called Lyttelton lived a family. A father, mother and two girls. The father was a busy man running a business, the mother was a stay at home mom, but also the father’s righthand. They worked very hard to make the business work and to provide for their two little girls aged 3 and 6 years old.
They lived just outside the town on a small farm bordered by a river. Everyday the children played in and around the garden while the mother and father worked.As they were living on a farm, nature and its creatures were part of their lives.The girls learnt to love and respect nature as their father was passionate about caring for the world around them.
Night time found the little girls tucked into bed, waiting with anticipation for their favourite time of the day………storytime.
Each night the father told them a story. He created the most wonderful characters from their environment of whom the favorites were Kiekie and Wiekie. Kiekie and Wiekie were two plovers. Their names are derived from the Afrikaans word Kiewiet, (afrikaans for plover).These little birds lived and nested in the veld right next to the garden and their sometimes comical habits, provided the material for a series of stories involving daily activities and life lessons.
Whenever the family experienced a particular event of importance, Kiekie and Wiekie also experienced such an event. Kiekie and Wiekie became part of the family. Their stories transported the girls into a wonderland where anything was possible, where problems could be solved and fun could be had, where life’s lessons could be learnt.
Needless to say, the swallows returned each year to build their nests and raise chicks in the eaves of the family home.
By now you might have guessed that I was one of the two girls. Yes I grew up with a story telling father, one who could bring to life the animals and creatures around us giving them the ability to be almost human.
Later when I married and had children of my own, I continued with the tradition of storytelling and so my children grew up with Kiekie and Wiekie. Now I am a grandmother and I would love my grandchildren to know Kiekie and Wiekie too.So I started writing the stories down. After many editions and help from an editor, the book is almost ready for printing. By writing the story of Kiekie and Wiekie I came to love them even more and when I saw the illustrations created by Alex van Houwelingen they looked just as I had imagined them.
Today I saw a the final manuscript of the book. It filled me with joy and good childhood memories. I am sure my brain became overactive producing loads of oxytocin.!
Although I wrote the book mainly to preserve the stories for children in our family, I trust that other children will also be enchanted by Kiekie and Wiekie.
Do the swallows return to build in the eaves of your house?
If not, become a storyteller and help the next generation to learn the art of communicating and connection.
Another sneak peak.
Kiekie and Wiekie as chicks
One of their many adventures.