Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Road to Miss Rumphius' House

In June, the roadsides near our cottage are crowded with spires of lavender and pink lupine that shine against the dark backdrop of tall firs, spruce, and pine. The beautiful lupines aren't native to Maine, but were hand seeded by Hilda Hamlin, a retired professor of English who lived just down the road from us in a shingled cottage perched high above the sea.

Hilda Hamlin became the inspiration for beloved illustrator-author Barbara Cooney's book Miss Rumphius, who was also known as the Lupine Lady. In Miss Cooney's book, we travel the world with Miss Rumphius who finally returns to her family's summer home.

I won't give away the story if you haven't already read it, but I will say that the moral of it is something we should all take to heart. "Do something to make the world a better place." It doesn't have to be something huge like a world summit–it can be something tiny and filled with life and promise like a seed.

Oh, and if you're thinking of being your neighborhood Miss Rumphius, grace your roadsides with native wildflowers. You can access suppliers of annual wildflower seeds suitable for your area by checking into the supply lists of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at They'll list the right species of seeds for your area.

Small Blessings,



My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

I could feel my heart leap when I saw that cottage on the shore.
What a dream. Beautiful. A respite from the world.

And what promise...just a make a difference in this world.

Perfect !

K. Bird
Hi to Jeff.....

June said...

One of our favorite storybooks! Thanks for sharing the picture of the picture-book perfect cottage. It fits my image of where a lupine lady would live.

queen of the castle said...

My children were overjoyed to see this post! They are always impressed when a story is true, or at least based on real life.

Laura said...

That was one of my all-time favorite books growing up! And I think probably my dad's favorite to read to me.

Dawn said...

That was one of my favorite books as a child and I always thought I want to be like Miss Rumphius when I get old. She was a pioneer guerilla gardener!

Unknown said...

Ah it's REAL! I love knowing it/she is/was REAL! How LOVELY!!!!!!! Thank you for this post!

Unknown said...

This is so exciting for me! Miss Rumphius is part of my heart. I read it to my children, now young adults.
I am also a kindergarten teacher and I read it to my class every year, on the last day of school. I'm such a fan I have my classroom door painted with the words, "make the world more beautiful".
Thank you for sharing.

Unknown said...

This is so very exciting for me!
I read this book to my children, young adults now.
But... to get my Barbara Cooney fix, i read this book to my kindergarten class every year on the last day of school.
I am such a fan, I have the phrase, "make the world more beautiful" painted on my classroom door.
Thank you for sharing!