On Being Miss Rumphius and Robynn Bliss


lupines by Janet Wachter

Today Robynn is taking a day off – I dedicate this post to her and talk about why she’s taking today off at the end! 

One of my favorite children’s books is Miss Rumphius. 

The book begins with a little girl named Alice on a grandfather’s lap. There she would sit listening to exciting stories of faraway places. She would listen and listen and then say to her grandfather “When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea.”

Her grandfather says ““That is all very well, little Alice”….“but there is a third thing you must do…You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”

“All right” says Alice. So Alice becomes a librarian – A librarian named Miss Rumphius. As a librarian she helped children find books that told them all about far away places. When she retired she decided to travel herself to see some of those far away places she had only visited through books. She travels and travels, gets tired, and finally ends up in a small cottage by the sea. But she still hasn’t figured out what to do to make the world a more beautiful place. Miss Rumphius ends up with a terrible back ache and has to have complete bed rest. It’s while laying in her bed that she knows what she wants to do to make the world a more beautiful place: she will plant lupine seeds. That way lupines will grow all over the country side.

So when Miss Rumphius is well again that’s what she does. She walks all over spreading lupine seeds. And the next year the ground is covered with beautiful lupines. She is now little and old and people call her the “lupine lady.”

The book ends delightfully with Miss Rumphius telling her nieces and nephews stories about far away places. And when they say they too want to go live in far away places and have houses by the sea she says to them exactly what her grandfather said to her:

“That is all very well….”but there is a third thing you must do…You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”

The book is based on the author’s great-aunt. It is a delightful read no matter what age you are and should be on every child’s bookshelf.

Today I was reminded of this beautiful book when my friend Janet, an amazing photographer, posted pictures of beautiful lupines. On this Friday the idea of lupines and making the world a more beautiful place makes me smile. And it makes me think of Robynn who is taking this week off as she transforms a house that is not beautiful into a place that is beautiful and warm, a place where she can love her family and care for her mother-in-law. And I love this. I love that she is transforming a house. I love that the ugly mural on a wall is being covered with fresh paint. I love that she is in the business of helping to transform lives and souls. 

So here’s to you on your day off Robynn! Keep on making the world a more beautiful place — through your writing which we get to enjoy weekly, through transforming your house, and for being a person used to transform souls. We love you.

Today how can you make the world a more beautiful place? 

Picture Credit: Janet Wachter who is also making the world a more beautiful place. Thank you Janet!

Readers – stay tuned for a book giveaway next week! 

 *Check out the book Between Worlds:Essays on Culture and Belonging – Available at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon GermanyBarnes & Noble!


15 thoughts on “On Being Miss Rumphius and Robynn Bliss

  1. This is one of our favorite books! The girls and I read Miss Rumphius more times than I can count together and I credit the gorgeous illustrations with at least a little bit of the responsibility when they both chose to study art and design in college. After all, we must do something to make the world more beautiful.


  2. Driving through the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming today while visiting family, we stopped to take pictures in a beautiful meadow of full of lupines and I thought of this children’s story also! How lovely to read your post after seeing lupines in person today.


  3. What a lovely post this week. Just want to say that you Marilyn Gardner along with the lovely Robynn Bliss make the world a more beautiful place simply by being in it. I adore you both xxx


  4. Love MIss Rumphius and love these lupines. When I saw the picture before reading anything about the post I thought of Miss Rumphius by the sea. I only wish I could get lupines to grow well in my garden. They don’t seem to like it here. No amount of planting seeds or little plants helps them reappear next year. Love to see fields of lupines. Thx Marilyn for this pretty summer day respite. !


  5. I am Grandpa B – have read to grandson, then four years later to grand-daughter – what I would tell each is that she / he IS who makes the world beautiful – placed this book on my Wish List. Thanks. Birthdays (both in a couple of days, July).


  6. Thank you, Marilyn! What a beautiful tribute to Robynn and I can’t wait to meet her in a couple of weeks. See you soon!


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