Make them carry you

A windmill at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, August 2005

A windmill at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, August 2005

“If the winds of fortune are temporarily blowing against you, remember that you can harness them and make them carry you toward your definite purpose, through the use of your imagination.”Napoleon Hill

Windmills are a visually appealing reminder that forces beyond our control can be turned to good purpose.  Wind-driven machines have been around in some form for centuries, in many different parts of the world.  Over time they evolved to become increasingly sophisticated and efficient at grinding grain and pumping water.  Their value grew with these refinements until new technologies rendered them largely obsolete.

I can’t help but wonder whether any of today’s innovations will ever appear as quaint and decorative as the historic windmills that survive today, some of which have been restored to functional operation.  Next time you see a windmill, let it remind you of what is possible when we learn to manage and adapt to uncontrollable circumstances, turning random or unpredictable events into opportunities for healing and growth.


  1. victoria k. copp

    Your blog today reminds me of Ella Wheeler Wilcox ‘s poem, “The Winds of Fate” (from Ours is The Faith, 1960.) Two ships may go through the same storm but it is the navigator who sets the sails that makes the difference. Our part in our faith journey. God of love and infinite mercy, help us to navigate in strength, trusting in Your plans for us.

    • I didn’t recognize the title of that poem, but I looked it up and found it here, and realized that I had read it before. It’s really good – thanks for sharing it!

  2. Mike Bertoglio

    Here in Washington state we have several wind farms, mostly in the Eastern section. They are supposed to supply about 10 % of the power grid by 2015.
    By “tacking into the wind” we can use opposing winds to our advantage. There is an element of trust that if we lift our sails we will be guided to where we are, “supposed” to be and like Abraham wandering in the desert, the ultimate destination may be quite different from our original idea. Also we might have to wander some before finding the home port. But if we do have the courage to lift the sails- guidance will come. But as someone has said, “You can’t steer a parked car.”

    • Mike, all of what you said is so true, and I especially love the analogy about Abraham. It calls to mind the beautiful passage about him in Hebrews 11 (NIV): “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own…These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us, so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” What a promise for all of us who are “wandering” – we may not know our destination, but it will surely be better than what we imagine!

    • Eric

      Oops, sorry Mike- spotty 3G and 4G coverage caused me not to see your comment before I made my less poetic one.

  3. Windmills are making a comeback in the Midwest. In many parts of IL they are a big part of the landscape and you can see them for miles. They have a sleek design and harness electricity. Where we used to live the local school used one to generate its electricity. I’ll send you a pic in your email.

    • Barb, I’ll attach a link to the photo here – thanks for sending it. We used to see these type windmills when we lived in the west. Although they’re not as pretty as the old-fashioned kind, I bet they are more efficient.

  4. Sheila

    Julia, the photograph makes me think of simplicity yet so powerful. I was also pondering the human comparisons of Jeff and Bill as they strive for “functional operation”! Blessings to y’all on this glorious day….Sheila

    • Thanks, Sheila – I think Bill and Jeff can both tell us with some authority that we need to be more grateful for the “functional operation” we take for granted too easily! Hope you have a blessed Sunday too!

  5. Well said Julia. I never correlated a Windmill with opportunity before but I’ll look at them differently now. You always give me food for thought, Bravo.

    • Thanks, I’m so happy you like the post. I was thinking I might get myself a windmill charm as a reminder to “make lemonade” when I get lemons, but I don’t wear a charm bracelet or any jewelry to speak of, so maybe not…

  6. Eric

    Commercially archaic, but loved by many sportsmen (see a previous post by Julia), are sailboats. To an even greater degree than the windmill, the properly trimmed sail can seem to actully “turn the wind” as the skillful sailor sets his tack.

  7. Hi Julia! Are you very well-traveled? You must be with all those photos you post. I love them! They never cease to be gorgeous shots!

    • I guess I am relatively well-traveled among people of my generation, mostly because I grew up in an airline family, and married a career Air Force officer – all of which was perfect for me since I seem to have been born with a love of travel. The older I get, the more of a hassle it seems, and more tiring. But my curiosity about the world just seems to grow all the time, which offsets the inertia of aging. I’m glad you like the photos; I’ve been compulsively snapping photos since I was a very young girl and took B&W pictures with rolls of 12-exposure film I bought at K-Mart for 25 cents, which was about equal to my weekly allowance in those days. I had to rely on my father or brother to process my film in a makeshift darkroom they set up in our (only) bathroom. But I was hooked from the very first time I saw an image magically appear on a blank sheet of paper dipped into chemicals. I got into it big time when I took photography in college, 1974-78. As great as digital photography is, sometimes I sort of miss the magical anticipation of the darkroom; like Christmas morning, you never knew exactly what to expect. Thanks for your visits here and your comments!

      • Eric

        Really “takes me back”, Julia. Thanks. You may not remember that I used a wooden contact print frame that had been Dad’s, when he was “just a kid” (maybe even in his twenties).

        • No I didn’t remember that particular piece, but I do remember the special low-light lamp you used, and the plastic trays of chemicals, and the brown jug marked “HYPO.”

  8. Mike Bertoglio

    Hi Eric. Don’t know much about sailing, but would like to take some lessons sometime. Yes- I thought it was something about setting the tack?

  9. Beautifully said, Julia. I’ve wondered the same thing myself.

    • Thanks, Alys! I don’t know what it is about the old-fashioned windmills that I find so appealing, but apparently I have lots of company; I notice other people taking photos of them too. I have always loved the little pinwheels that we used to play with as kids; I don’t see them much anymore except the ones that papercrafters make.

      • I loved those as a child too, and so did my boys. In fact, I just bought a red, white and blue one to use in my 4th of July pot. They have a lot of charm.


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