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The Bird Sisters

Rebecca Rasmussen

Top 10 Best Quotes

“Life and death- what paltry words, what tarnished bookends,what unjust summation for drawing breath one moment and failing to release it the next.”

“This book I'm reading says if you want to be as thin as a stalk of celery, then that's what you should be eating. I'm not sure I want to look like celery, but I know I don't want to look like a biscuit.”

“Once a bird had lost his ability to fly, not much else could be done in the way of mending him. Losing a wing was a little like losing a leg and the freedom of movement, of spirit, it granted you; most people could live without the former but not the latter.”

“Bett didn't have any siblings because she said her father had preserved what was dead for too long to be able to create life. When Bet was younger and had begged for one, her father gave her a marmot he' stuffed for a man from Wyoming. "This is your brother Christopher," he'd said, placing the marmot on Bett's pillow one night. "He doesn't talk much, so you'll have to pick up the slack there.”

“Used to be when a bird flew into a window, Milly and Twiss got a visit. Milly would put a kettle on and set out whatever culinary adventure she'd gone on that day. For morning arrivals, she offered her famous vanilla drop biscuits and raspberry jam. Twiss would get the medicine bag from the hall closet and sterilize the tools she needed, depending on the seriousness of the injury. A wounded limb was one thing. A wounded crop was another. People used to come from as far away as Reedsburg and Wilton. Milly would sit with them while Twiss patched up the 'poor old robin' or the 'sweet little meadowlark.' Over the years, the number of visitors had dwindled. Now that the grocery store sold ready-bake biscuits and jelly in all the colors of the rainbow, people didn't bother as much about birds.”

“After Twiss went out the barn, Milly went up to their bedroom with the brown paper bag. She looked out the window before she turned it upside down and the bars of lavender soap shaped like seashells and the card shaped like a rectangle came tumbling out. Asa's name graced the front of the card. A note graced the back. 'I know why you did it, Milly. Bella swings a golf club just like him.' Milly sat a long time on her old twin mattress, staring at the fleur-de-lis carved into the headboard, at the life that didn't belong to her and the life that did, before she placed the soaps beneath the velvet tray in her jewelry box and closed it. She never washed her hands with a single one of the seashell-shaped soaps, although from time to time, when Twiss had gone for a walk or to the barn, she'd open her jewelry box and examine her only secret. 'La joie de vivre.' The scent of lavender. Forgiveness. Age-old love.”

“Wisconsin,'" Twiss said. "That's my word." "The word or the state?" Milly said. "Both," Twiss said. Twiss knew every dip and rise on their land, every anthill and every snake hole. She knew what kind of grass grew where. You could blindfold her and she'd be able to tell you what kind of bark belonged to what kind of tree. Pines were her favorite; she liked how they looked so different from the other trees n the woods, yet relied on the same underground springs to stay alive. Instead of a cotton-filled pillow like the rest of the family slept on, Twiss slept on a pillow stuffed with pine needles. She envied the birds that lived in the actual trees.”

“While their mother told Mrs. Bettle and Bett about her trip to France when she was a girl- 'Oh, Champs-Elysées!'- Milly hauled out a bottle of milk from the refrigerator and a sack of dried kidney beans from the pantry. She opened her recipe book, looking for something to make out of the available ingredients: milk, flour, butter, and kidney beans. When she didn't find a recipe, she decided to do what every woman in the country did when she lacked materials: bake a pie. Not every woman would have made a kidney bean pie, though.”

“When her teacher asked her to explain the drawing, Twiss said to her happiness felt like freedom. Sadness felt like the opposite.”

“What would your word be?" Twiss said. Something to do with baking. Whenever Milly could scrape together enough flour, sugar, and butter, she'd bake a dessert. Often, her parents would stop what they were doing and wander into the kitchen, where Twiss would already be sitting with a napkin tucked into the collar of her shirt. Something about sugar made their family sweeter. "'Sugar,'" Milly said to Twiss, measuring out two cups' worth. She mixed the batter and poured it into a cake pan. After she put the pan in the oven, she gave Twiss the bowl to lick and took the spoon for herself.”

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Book Keywords:

humor, soap, outdoorsy, death, biscuits, life-lessons, sugar, lavender, baking, ingredients, meaning-of-love, age-old, pines, pie, healers, tomboy, milly, milly-and-asa, family, life, bird-sisters, jelly, siblings, twiss, love, forgiveness

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