Along the Natchez Trace

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Alice Rumphius, The Lupine Lady

My children grew up with a love of reading and a love of books.  They had their favorites even as little kids.  I can't remember how old they were when we got "The Lupine Lady", by Barbara Cooney, but it quickly became one of their favorites.  We read it many, many times.  I remember that we bought lupine seeds and tried to grow them in our little garden.  But Ohio weather wasn't agreeable and we never did succeed.  When I had grandchildren, they, too were read about Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady.  Now I have a great granddaughter and am sure she's already heard about Miss Rumphius.

If you've never read the story, below is what I took off the internet:

The Lupine Lady is little and old. But she has not always been that way. I know. She is my great-aunt and she told me so. Once upon a time she was a little girl named Alice, who lived in a city by the sea…
In the evening Alice sat on her grandfather’s knee and listened to his stories of faraway places. When he had finished, Alice would say, “When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea.”
“That is all very well, little Alice,” said her grandfather, “but there is a third thing you must do…You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”
“All right,” said Alice. But she did not know yet what that could be.
She grew up into a lady who worked in a library, who helped children and grown-ups find books to answer their questions and take them to faraway places with the turn of a page.
She traveled, just as she told her grandfather she would.
And she came to live beside the sea, just as she said she would. But she still did not know what she could do to make the world a more beautiful place. So she planted some flowers and waited for inspiration.
It came in the form of a backache that kept her indoors in her bed. From her window she could see her garden, brimming with lupines of blue and pink and purple.They brought her such comfort.
And she was even more overjoyed when the next year, feeling much better and happily out walking the hills, she spied lupines that grew from seed blown from her garden. And then she knew what she could do to bring beauty to the world…
All that summer Miss Rumphius, her pockets full of seed, wandered over fields and headlands, sowing lupines. She scattered seeds along the highways and down country lanes. She flung handfuls of them around the schoolhouse and back of the church. She tossed them into hollows and along stone walls.
My great aunt Alice, Miss Rumphius, is very old now. Her hair is very white…Now they call her the Lupine Lady…Often she tells us stories of faraway places.
‘When I grow up,” I tell her, “I too will go to faraway places and come home to live by the sea.”
“That is all very well, little Alice,” says my aunt, “but there is a third thing you must do..You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”
“All right,” I say.
But I do not know yet what that can be.  
 (Author.... Barbara Cooney)

I never saw wild lupines when I lived in Ohio...  it wasn't until we began to volunteer up here in northern Maine that I saw them in their natural setting.  They are blooming in profusion now...  on the hillsides and along the highway.  I cannot look at them without thinking of my son and daughter and remembering how much we all loved reading that book and its wonderful illustrations.  And I still believe that we must all do something to make the world more beautiful.

That's All For today!


  1. What a sweet story. Thanks. Becki

  2. What a sweet story. Thanks. Becki

  3. The Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) is a Lupine that really brightens up the Texas highways. Didn't Ladybird Johnson have something to do with planting the wild flowers along the Texas highways? She must be the Texas Lupine Lady, right?

  4. My daughter and I love the book about the Lupine Lady and she made me a quilt like the one in the book! Blue and white squares. It is so beautiful and very peaceful. BTW, we are 69 and 47! Just little kids! LOL

  5. And I sleep under it every night.

  6. And they are beautiful. A grand field of lupine!

  7. What a great story. Kind of like the Johnny Appleseed of lupines.

  8. A wonderful story that you shared with us, thanks.

  9. I have always loved that story!!! I'm a retired teacher and I have read that story to my kids many times. Brought back such great memories....thanks for sharing!!!

  10. I love that story! And lupines, ours are blooming everywhere--I have a bouquet on the table right now.

  11. That's a really neat story, and the Lupines are gorgeous. Thank you for sharing this! I should be back to blogging full time next week.

  12. have not heard this story! I love it… so well Adelle…

  13. I'd never heard this story. Thanks for the introduction!