The Sweetness of Unexpected Pleasures

Photo lens filters, packages in the post, fortuitous flowers, spectacular sunsets and helping hands all have in common that they’ve recently come to bring me unexpected joy.


First, a recent photo of our smallholding. I took the photo standing upon the wall at the top of the road using my Samsung phone and a €1.50 fisheye lens. I never dreamt the filter would work so great. It came in a €3 package, marked down from €8, along with a macro lens.

Here are a few photos of elderflowers, soon to be elderflower cordial, that I gathered and photographed with and without the macro lens attached. I have to play around with this lens to figure out how to use it better but it definitely has potential.

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The next unexpected pleasure arrived at my doorstep as a result of Nuala landing herself in a lower leg and ankle cast for three weeks. It wasn’t broken thankfully and the cast was just removed. When Sandra heard of her accident she said she was going to mail Nuala a card. Super surprise and big excitement when the postman dropped off a package of homemade goodies and fun and love addressed to Nuala and the entire family! I was surprised by how great it felt seeing her handwriting on a card as all our correspondences have been over the computer. A million thanks to her for such thoughtfulness.

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Three flowers have grown in our garden this summer that we didn’t plant. The orange and pink poppies I’m certain of, but the purple one I can’t identify. My guess is that they’re all gifts left behind by birds. No matter how they arrived, these fantastic florae are welcome to stay and put down forever roots on our smallholding. Their blooms are lovely and I admire their independence and determination.

A generous and loving family who are holidaying on Aran for the week stopped by to buy fresh vegetables. After talking a bit about the this and that of our garden, they agreed to a barter of time for food and returned the next day to help lighten our load. 245 garlic bulbs were dug up then laid to dry and a bed of rocket was cut down in order to regrow a second time. These overdue garden jobs were completed in not much more than an hour– so quickly that there was time to spare for playing, relaxing and sharing a meal together. It’s a day we won’t soon forget.

Whether intended or unintended, I’ve no doubt that the surprise element of these lovely gifts- quality, friendship, generosity, beauty, selflessness and time- made receiving them even nicer. It’s said that little things mean a lot. I think they mean even more and are even sweeter when they’re unexpected.

p.s. The (unfiltered) sunset photos are from 4th of July. Turning around and seeing our blue shadows cast on the side of the house was another beautiful moment of surprise which I was fortunate enough to share with a good friend.


  1. Singledust says:

    your gifts were priceless and I don’t know of anyone who deserves this more than you and your family, you spread so much love and joy about being a human and a family i am always moved to happy tears reading your words, the pure joy I get from reading an honest woman in love with life and those around her she wishes to include in her celebration.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Your comments leave me without words, needing time to absorb the incredible respect and veneration I feel from your most sincere thoughts. I believe that your heart is so full of love and happiness, you have no choice but to share it with all you come in contact with. How fortunate I am to be one of those people!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. sarahblain says:

    Thank you, Melissa, for opening your delightful home and garden to us! Your children shared their joyful, fun spirits with us as well. What a lovely afternoon! Lunch at your house was delicious, and we had fabulous meals with delicious fresh organic produce at our holiday home as well. I enjoyed talking sewing with kids, and look forward to sharing some projects with you when I get home. Xoxox

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought of you fondly at noon today as I knew you were boarding the ferry to begin your journey home. So much serendipity surrounding our encounter! The odds of meeting another who teaches sewing to children and also having experience with rearing goats and I have a feeling if the day had been longer there would have been more wonderful discoveries to be made. I was very motivated by our conversation and also look forward to further discussions on project ideas. Godspeed to you and your loving family on your journey back to the States. We’ll cherish the memory of your visit for a long, long time!


  3. Such a beautiful and heartwarming post as usual and Oh Melissa! those photos of Nuala and the others opening the package, their expressions! just lovely – thank you for sharing, I almost feel like I’m there. Gives me goosebumps to see what I sent to you in your home. How is Nuala’s leg now? Give them all a big hug from me, and the biggest hug goes to you. The fish-eye photo with all its colour and productivity, good gracious – amazing and so lovely to see your plot in all its glory. May many more blessings be on their way to you and your gorgeous family right now. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s true that pictures speak a thousand words. The children’s expressions say it all!! Nuala is hopping around with relief to be out of the cast and is participating in swim lessons. Surely the saltwater is helping with the muscle recovery and further healing. I’m thinking to update the fish-eye photo as July has so much in bloom and the pumpkin patch is full of plants and growth, netting is off the brassicas and lettuce beds. Next sunny day perhaps!


  4. Laurie Graves says:

    Such a great way to start the day by reading your lovely post. I feel the spirit of joy and generosity coming to me across the Atlantic via he computer. I loved seeing the eager faces of your children, and I hope Nuala’s leg has completely healed. And, thanks to you, I am also blogging friends with Sandra.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    Your garden looks amazing! Could the blue flower be phacilia, it’s used as a green manure and bees love it. I think all the kind gifts is a reflection if your own kindness and generosity. What goes around comes around.

    Liked by 1 person

    • After googling images of phacilia I’d have to say no because of the curly detail it has and this plant doesn’t have but thanks for the introduction as it’s really lovely. This is more like a ball shape, very similar alright though.
      I hope you’re right about kindness and generosity coming back to me– that I’ve possibly been making others feel as wonderful as I felt by these gestures would certainly make all this goodness even better!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. susurrus says:

    I love your feel-good posts. It’s nice to see the fisheye picture – if you only ever took that one shot with it, it would have been a bargain! Those blue shadow pictures are wonderful too – they look like the start of a marketable series.


  7. Brenda says:

    I love the fish-eye photo–it beautifully wraps up your small holding in a nice package. I cannot decide what I prefer–unexpected pleasures or the joy of anticipation! It looks as if you are having a full and satisfying summer (except for Nuala’s injury) and I’m sure that you gave that visiting family memories that they will long remember. We are having splendid high-summer weather in Maine and it’s giving me the best garden I’ve ever had. Enjoy and savor all your summer pleasures, Melissa!


  8. Denis1950 says:

    In love the collection of images and stories Melissa. Thats a productive patch your family has although only one worker seemed to be at it in that image. Is it school holiday time, thats when children usually break or sprain limbs?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, the very good life you are living out there on the Aran Islands! The best part is your acknowledgment and gratitude for so many things, Melissa….your family, a chance meeting of island visitors, flowers that find their way into your garden, a child’s smile…a life well lived, for sure, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. chef mimi says:

    Wow. What great photos! I bought a lens for my iphone, but opted against the fish eye. Now I’m kicking myself! Now nice for a family to work with you for a day. I know that really added to their holiday experience. Wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

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