Lupine (noun)– any of a genus Lupinus of leguminous herbs including some poisonous forms and others cultivated for their long showy racemes of usually blue, purple, white, or yellow flowers or for green manure, fodder, or their edible seeds
Lupines strike Maine in June. Lupus attacks mostly women of childbearing age. I used to confuse the two until I made the connection that Miss Rumphius, one of my favorite childhood picture books by Barbara Cooney, lived and spread lupine seeds in Maine. Although it doesn’t do the book justice, the audio version is available on youtube.
Not only did I enjoy seeing lupines in full bloom on my 6-hour bus ride from Bangor to Boston on the scenic Route 1, the drive also took me down memory lane to when I worked and resided in the vacationland. In Camden, the bus slowly meandered through downtown. I caught quick glimpses of the two places where I once spent an afternoon: Harbor Park designed by the Olmsted Brothers and Boynton-McKay cafe where I conducted my first Middlebury alumni interview. After a stop at the ferry services in Rockland and five bags of mini pretzels by Waldoboro, we passed the waterfront deck in Damariscotta where I slurped down freshly-shucked oysters after a swim nearby. As we were pulling over to pick up more passengers, two familiar faces crossed the street right in front of the bus. They were two formers colleagues of mine who moved to South Carolina and whom I haven’t seen for three years. A small world! A round of hugs and a far-too-brief conversation later, we were back on the road. For once, we cruised through downtown Wiscasset since Red’s Eats has yet to open for lunch. The next 15 minutes became a succession of familiar snapshots: the turn that I took in the winter to drive the swim team for daily practice at the Wiscasset Community Center, Montsweag Flea Market, the gradual climb by Taste of Maine followed by the sight of Bath Iron Works cranes.
According to Down East, lupines disperse themselves all over Maine by thriving in the nutrient-depleted soil. Lupus, on the other hand, is not contagious, thus causing it more difficult for Miss Rumphius to make the world more beautiful by spreading it.