Quietly thrilling

The flower seed industry created beauty as well as jobs. Lompoc, California, 1992

The flower seed companies created beauty as well as jobs. Lompoc, California, 1992

“It is always quietly thrilling to find yourself looking at a world you know well but have never seen from such an angle before.”Bill Bryson

When I read these words from Bryson, I realized why I love photography so much.  Through the lens of my camera, I look at things from all sorts of angles, and see what I otherwise might have missed.  And he’s right, it is a quiet kind of thrill, but a thrill no less.  It inspires wonder and gratitude.  It wakes the mind up.

The great thing about photography is that you can experience that quiet thrill again years later when you look through old pictures you haven’t seen in awhile.  That’s how I felt recently when I saw the photo posted here.  I know, of course, that my memories of our time on the central coast of California are among my happiest; that our years there had a magical quality about them.  But I had forgotten the almost unreal beauty of those gorgeous flower fields, until I saw this photo again while I was putting together Jeff’s retirement scrapbook.

Wherever you are right now, whatever you’re doing, I hope you’ll make the time to experience as many quietly thrilling moments as you can.  The loud thrills may get all the press coverage, but it’s the quiet ones that add up to a lifetime of happiness.


  1. blseibel

    Quietly thrilling moments, I love that. I have often experienced that with kids, just sitting and watching them explore or play. It makes me so peaceful.

    I gave my daughter her first camera when she was 3 and loves photography still. She even started college in visual communications and I hope she gets back to that when the dust of the last year clears. BTW she is coming home next week, yay, it is just not working out in SC. Hopefully now we can get things back on track for her. Silly me fretting about her leaving, I should have known that God had this!

    • B, I’m so happy for you that your daughter is coming back! I too hope she can get back to her college studies. She was bitten by the “photography bug” quite early! Neither of my sons were ever interested in cameras, nor is their Dad. For those of us who love it, the digital age has been wonderful. We can have so much fun with photography on so little money, compared to how it was back in the 1970’s when I was first learning it. The expense of it was really limiting in those days.

      Yes, there are lots of quietly thrilling moments with kids around…and lots of noisily thrilling ones, too! 🙂

  2. I’m with you. I like the quiet moments and the quiet life. I never saw what the camera saw until the photo was on my laptop larger than the tiny screen. Now I can see the things I was missing all along. Taking photos helps you slow down and notice more. Hope you are doing well and the scrapbook bringing lots of happy memories. Hugs.

    • Hi Marlene, I’m doing Ok, still staying crazy-busy with school but getting used to the new normal of having even less time than I did before. I’m not sure I would have seen as much through cameras if I had not gotten started back when we looked through the viewfinder of an SLR. It took me a really long time to get used to NOT doing that. I think framing a small part of something helps me take a closer look, as Ellis described in her book that I wrote about in this post.

  3. Good morning, Julia!
    Wow! I have never seen anything like that field! Did it smell as good as it looks?

    • Susan, I’m sure it must have, but what I remember are the dazzling colors. There were several fields; some were yellow and orange, some pinks and so on. Lompoc has a Flower Festival each year when the fields are in bloom.

  4. Carolyn

    We are home and had a wonderful time. The weather was great for us. Julia, I remember how pretty the flowers were at Lompoc. We got to see so many beautiful things on our visits to see family and friends. Then Jennifer and Paul spent a few years in Ca. I don’t remember if I told you are not, but Paul is in Turkey for 6 months. I hope things are going good for you all. I’m sure you all are enjoying Owen. How is Grady doing with his new brother? You know the picture you send of Drew holding Owen , Terry said that he looked so much like Jeff. Better close, hugs and love to all.

    • Carolyn, I’m so glad you had a good time and great weather! You might have told me about Paul being in Turkey, but if so, I had forgotten. I was surprised how much I enjoyed our brief time in Istanbul, but living there might be a different matter than making a quick visit. Grady apparently loves having a brother. I haven’t had time to post any pics of them together but I’m sure I will eventually. Hope you are having a great weekend. Love to you and Terry.

  5. Sheila

    Good Sunday morning, Julia. ☕️ Memories, in the form of photos, can really be quietly thrilling. For me, they’re recalling the place, time, and people a bit “sharper”, if you know what I mean! 😉 Sunbeams here, quite a surprise! We know “Bonnie” is slowly approaching our coastal area, bringing rain and cancelling cookouts. Our plans were minimal, since Bill is still recovering from foot surgery (after his grilling accident) almost a month later. I hope Matt is doing well, or should I call him “Uncle Matt”? Happy Memorial Day weekend! 🇺🇸🎉💛

    • Hi Sheila, I’ve been thinking of you since we’ve been hearing the hurricane reports, just as I thought of K recently with all the fires in Alberta. The world news seems suddenly much closer now that I know so many people all over the globe. But the hurricane, of course, was much closer to home for us. I had to drive in blinding rain coming back to NoVa Sunday afternoon. At one point I just had to pull over to the side of the road and wait until it got a bit lighter…just a bit, enough that I could see. Jeff still isn’t driving so I can sympathize with Bill’s recovery. Here’s hoping they are both back in top form soon! Tomorrow is a new Verandah and I almost cheated but caught myself just in time, so I have no idea what is coming…meet me with mug in hand! ❤

  6. LB

    Julia, I love that you are always encouraging us to stop, think, look, and listen.
    The photo is beautiful and I’m so glad it brought you thrilling memories

    • Thanks LB. I was just telling Jeff today, whatever else is going on in our lives right now, we are lucky to have so many golden memories. One of which is of a special springtime visit in 2015! Wow, what a dream…

  7. Mike Bertoglio

    Nice shot. Not sure but are they poppies? The lavenders are in bloom here and in Sequim, Wash. next week they are having the annual lavender field festival. I have only been once but we have several lavenders in bloom in the front yard.
    I guess Thomas Merton always carried a camera with him and I am reading his “Contemplative Prayer” book one of his last after his tragic early death in 1968 at a conference in Thailand where he accidentally electrocuted himself in the shower. Did not mean to be a killjoy.
    I am on chapter two of Karenina. Seven characters and 800 pages plus. Who knew.
    Head to Atlanta on the 16th for a short visit.

    • Mike, Amy told me awhile back that most of the flowers in Lompoc were sweet peas– or at least some of them were. I am not really sure what is grown there. Isn’t it funny I never thought to ask while we lived there? Fields of lavender must be sublime. One could go there to de-stress, as the scent is supposedly very therapeutic.

      Drew had told me about Merton’s untimely death. I’ve been afraid of having my space heater fall into the bathtub ever since. I didn’t realize Merton carried a camera. I’ll have to read more about that sometime. What little I have read of him, I liked.

      Good luck with AK. Let me know if Tolstoy is worth the time and effort. Dostoevsky was, in my opinion, at least the two of his I’ve read. I never did get through Crime and Punishment, but it wasn’t from lack of interest. Hope you have fun in Atlanta. Wish I could dash down there and see Owen, among many other loved ones in that town.

  8. Mike Bertoglio

    Sweet pea field -awesome. Ours did not do to well and have to replant some.
    Yes lavender scent in therapeutic and I often carry some with me in the car to prevent road rage. It does not always work.
    Yea you have to watch those space heaters.
    I forgot Owen is in Atlanta. Hope to get a zoo when there. Wonderful facility.

    • Hey, maybe I should try the lavender thing. Truthfully, I find three things are best at preventing road rage: 1. Leave in plenty of time; 2. Allow a huge following distance; 3. Pretend everybody on the road is my Mama’s age and still trying to drive because they have no other way to get anywhere.

      I can’t wait to see Owen, but the trip keeps getting postponed. I hope to be able to take some photos soon. I have some really sweet ones of him and Grady together that Megan sent me. How is Norah and her sister? Did I spell the name right?

  9. Mike Bertoglio

    What do you call someone who visits Atlanta often, is not a tourist, has relatvies there and has also some friends there? Atlanta- wantabee?
    Oh movie you might enjoy- no profanity- “Big stone Gap” with Ashley Judd.”

    • Thanks for the movie tip. Regarding your question about what to call the frequent Atlanta visitor, I would call him “lucky.” 😀

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