Miss Rumphius

Author and Illustrator: Barbara Cooney

On a balmy day in Bath Maine, in July 1989, a soft-spoken woman with a snow white braid winding through her hair, became my friend. Her name was Barbara Cooney. Several of my teacher friends and I were attending a small conference of authors and illustrators.  Ms. Cooney was among them, exuding a presence of gentleness. When sharing her books with those attending, she would most often quote entire passages by heart, and with such enthusiasm and feeling that those of us listening sat in complete awe. Among those books was Miss Rumphius.

The story of Miss Rumphius is based on Ms. Cooney’s great-aunt.  Beginning as young Alice living by the sea, then traveling all over the world, and finally becoming “the Lupine Lady,” Miss Rumphius never forgot the admonition from her grandfather as a child. “You must do something to make the world more beautiful,” he had told her.  Planting a small garden of her beloved lupines by her house by the sea, she wonders just what that could be.

I have several reasons for choosing this book as one of my favorites. Having personally met the author was, of course, special.  That I adore fresh flowers in my home all the time and delight in the “Lupine Lady’s” act of  beautification – yes! But perhaps most of all is the root of the story; the grandfather’s admonition to make the world more beautiful. Why?  Because I can hear my own dear mother saying to me and my sisters as we were growing up, “Girls, always leave a  place better than you found it!” But that is a story for another time. . .

Please go buy some flowers, put them in a prominent spot, and just enjoy their beauty. Then curl up and read this lovely book and thank Miss Rumphius for making the world a little more beautiful.

Mary Byrne Kline

 

 

 

Comments

  1. barbara kline says:

    A favorite for sure and certain.

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