“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.
When she grows up, Miss Rumphiustravels the world seeing sights in far off places. Eventually she decides to stop traveling and she finds her house buy the sea, just like she said she would. But she still doesn’t know what to do to make the world more beautiful, until one evening, lying in bed, she is struck by inspiration from her garden.
Miss Rumphius is a combination of the author’s life and inspiration she found in her travels, the real lupine lady and the landscape around Damariscotta, Maine. The original illustrations for Miss Rumphius have a permanent home in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art .
Lupines can be found all along the coast of Maine during the summer. They are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius, Hilda Hamlin, a retired professor of English who lived in a shingled cottage perched high above the sea and scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went. Let’s hope we can all “do something to make the world more beautiful.”