Tilting at Windmills

During our recent cross-country trek, we encountered what would have been the bane of Don Quixote’s existence — ginormous windmills! In Miguel de Cervantes novel the word “tilt” comes from fighting; Don Quixote jousted with imaginary enemies (windmills) that he perceived to be giants, thinking the blades were their arms.


Like a grandmother’s fluffy quilt, wind turbines cover the plains. At one particular spot in Iowa, we got to have an up-close-and-personal look at a Siemens Energy blade and learned that:

  • Each individual, joint-free, seamless blade is 148 feet long, 11.2 feet wide, and weighs 23,098 pounds!
  • Standing over 400 feet tall, each complete wind turbine has three blades, with a rotor diameter of more than 300 feet — nearly the same length as a football field.


  • One wind turbine can power up to 700 residential homes with environmentally friendly, carbon free electricity.
  • A single wind turbine needs approximately one-half acre of land and uses 40 acres of wind space.
  • Blades sweep an area of 75,000 square feet with each rotation.

What energizes you?

© Laurie Buchanan

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63 thoughts on “Tilting at Windmills

  1. Wow, those are massive, Laurie! But, I suppose creativity fuels me–and love and hugs, and Sara, of course. Merry May to you, my friend. Hope your week is going well so far!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Luanne – In doing research for this post I found a multitude of pros and cons regarding this type of alternative energy. And like you said, these gigantic wind turbines are not bird friendly and depending on who’s doing the looking, can certainly be considered an eyesore. Thank you so much for dropping by today and sharing your thoughts.

  2. I adore windmills and Don Quixote, so be rest assured that’s a winning combination for me Laurie! Your technical presentation here is wholly fascinating, and succeeded in captivating someone who normally would not be immersed in that type of discussion. But your metaphorical examples are always super-creative, and that was some cross-country trek my friend! Obsessive at worst and passionate at best, I’d say that overlapping hankering with many pursuits is what has always pushed me forward. Ha!

    • Sam – Your comment made me SMILE:

      “Obsessive at worst and passionate at best, I’d say that overlapping hankering with many pursuits is what has always pushed me forward.” 🙂

  3. Walking out early on a spring morning energizes me for the rest of the day . I also love coastal walks in any weather . Writing my next paragraph and reading a really good book .Laurie you’ve got me started I could think of loads of things but wind turbines aren’t one of them. I know they are an amazing feat of egineering, and do a great job, but I don’t like the look of them …sorry

    • Cherry – I love the idea that “writing my next paragraph” is part of what energizes. That’s like dangling a carrot in front of creativity to keep it moving forward. Yes!

  4. Your banner of pink dogwoods energizes me. We have only white ones in Jacksonville and they bloomed back in March. You and I both like to quilt seemingly disparate ideas together: alternative energy, Don Quixote and a cross-country trip. It all works! More POWER to you, pun intended, Laurie.

    • Marian – New to me, the botanicals in this neck of the woods energize me, too — a photographer’s paradise. My hope is to change out the banner with a different photo each week.

      I love your pun; it blew my socks off (pun intended) 🙂

  5. That is awe-inspiring Laurie! We saw these a few years ago when traveling between Toronto and Windsor Ontario. They just sucked up my attention but I wouldn’t have guessed their size or weight. Huge! What energizes me is light and shadow – yep pretty simple but that is all it takes to keep me going on most days.

  6. Lovely photos Laurrie! We have fields of these strange giant crops covering the hills near us. I dont mind them. They fire my imagination. They look like modern sculpture in the landscape and add to the beauty in my opinion. I find them hypnotic to watch. But I dont live in their shadow. There has been much opposition to them in Ireland. On the Greek islands of Kos and Kalymnos I have seen acres of solar panels rowed up in fields to provide energy, alongside the orange and olive groves. Wouldnt work here, not enough sun so guess well have to stick to the wind turbines!

    • Ali – I’m glad you enjoyed the photographs, I had fun taking them. I love your outlook:

      “They fire my imagination. They look like modern sculpture in the landscape and add to the beauty in my opinion.”

      Thank you so much for your visit today. 🙂

  7. I have a friend in the Netherlands who is apprenticing to become an old-fashioned windmill operator. He’s a retired Navy guy and I believe it will take many years before he’s qualified to operate those old-time windmills. Sounds like a cool hobby! As for our modern-day wind fellas, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, they’re magnificent, and you’ve pointed that magnificence of energy out so well. How nice not to be solely dependent on other kinds of possibly more harmful energy.

    On the other hand, we went to a bat presentation and discovered that one of the major challenges to bat survival are these windmills. (Other challenges exist, too.) It seems like everything and everyone in the Universe contains gifts and challenges, doesn’t it?

    • Kathy – You’ve hit the nail squarely on the head; there’s definitely the sunshine and shadow side to this alternative source of energy (as with so many other things)…

      Your friend’s apprenticeship sounds waaaaaaay coooooool 🙂

  8. I love the question; “What energizes you?”
    Sometimes it’s really good to observe the things we have around, and with them, ask ourselves questions that would propel us in more productive directions.
    Thanks much for sharing, Laurie!

  9. Hi Laurie

    Most power in New Zealand is hydro electric, and we have wind and solar and geothermal as well.

    For me, I get a lot of power from seeing others standing up for justice, standing up for the value of human life, standing up for the value of natural systems.

    I get power from the resonance in my mind when I hear people willing to share their own experience, and be vulnerable to criticism and ridicule as a result.

    I get power from people choosing love and integrity in a world that values dominance and deceit – a world where image is more important than substance, where actors and fashion have high value.

    I get power from contemplating the vastness of reality, and the beauty of nature.

  10. Hmmmm…Laurie, good question! I could be flip and say my morning coffee, there’s a lot of truth in that! Or more seriously, the anticipation of seeing my work finished and tied up with a bow. Of course, as a garden designer it’s never really finished, it keeps evolving day by day, and I make adjustments as needed. Currently I could use a few more pops of energy as the Spring season is such a busy time for me.
    I love the windmills, birds will find their way around them as will the bats with their sonar equipment. Anytime we can utilize an alternative and renewable source of energy, we are working to keep our air, water and the Earth itself clean and free from fossil-fuel pollutants. Hooray, Windmills! May they spin forever!

    • Sandi – I get energized when I see photographs of your work (in progress, or completed); whether it’s a gardening project or a floral arrangement. I see your creativity as an extension of your divine connection — you’re well plugged in 🙂

    • Sandi – German energy company is building on the largest solar/wind farms in the world in Georgia. When interviewed they said it would create clean energy and help the planet and they are so far ahead of Americans in their technology that they felt it was an opportunity to make billions of dollars for their future.

      While we fight the lawsuits the Australians are busy here making the money!

      Yes, the birds do adapt very quickly – they too wish for clean air 🙂

  11. We have wonderfully “energizing” wind farms in California and I love to watch them. I, too, always think of Don Quixote. I’m energized by so many things. It’s hard for me to pinpoint any one thing. But sometimes just being quiet and reading a book is actually energizing to me if it’s interesting. I’m pretty easy. LOL!

    • Three Well Beings – Isn’t it wonderful to be energized by something as calming as being quiet and reading a book. I think it’s because it recharges our personal batter 🙂

  12. I’ve gone through that area in western Iowa and marvel at all the windmills and thought what a great way to harness energy as the wind is buffeting my card back and forth! My son’s dog was also fascinated by them when I took her to her dad in Phoenix! I learned while talking with my son they are deadly to birds which is sad.
    My walks along Lake Michigan with my dog fills me with gratitude and energy!

    • Bonnie – I, too, feel the sadness at the loss of birds via this alternative energy source. I’m sure that someone out there has an answer, I hope they unveil it soon.

      Walking + Lake Michigan + Dog = gratitude and energy. I love your equation 🙂

  13. We are powered by solar panels right now and we have eliminated 400 lbs of carbon in our area with all our solar panels on homes in our rainy clime. We are planting the equivalency of 15 trees a year – in oxygen supply. The state is full of windmills and I just think they are stunningly beautiful. We are having terrific luck with bird diversion and rebuilding habitats tactics also . We will soon be seeing wave windmills in our area and that too is exciting.

    China believes they will be out of the fossil fuel business in 5 to 10 years, so schools, businesses and government buildings are working to be net zero in design and function and to be off the grid of fossil fuels soon also It is wonderful to have a whole state working together to achieve some amazing priorities in health and planet recovery. Even our power companies are working on solutions and education.

    Our biggest problem is all the lawsuits brought -daily-by the old fossil’s network. They are still running oil pipeline trains hundreds of them a week through our downtown, and then all the polluting coal and they want to put in 5 coal ports – between all the RR Oil tanker explosions and all the coal and surrounding fracking areas tracking their unhealthy stuff through our house – it has been a fairly tough go.

    Being sued all the time is exhausting and right now our lawyers are volunteering in other states to help with unseating new voter restriction laws.

    Beauty and energy are us.

  14. What energizes me is a glorious crisp clear breezy cool day after a hot humid heatwave has broken with the passing of the last thunderstorm.

    Regarding the Palm Springs windmills:They are impressive and depressing at the same time. I feel bad for the birds who run afoul of them (pun slightly intended), but I’m also hopeful that someday we won’t rely on fossil fuels for the bulk of our energy needs. I’m mildly surprised that the Coachella Valley doesn’t build large solar panel farms. Those would certainly be less harmful to birds, I think.


  15. What energizes me? Photography. Watercolor. Long walks. A good book and my rocking chair. And, I love your photographs of windmills.

    Being from Kansas, we have thousands spread out across the state. They are the new sentinels on the prairie, now more numerous than the grain elevators. Like Chris, I am sad for the wildlife death toll, but, oh, they are magnificent sentinels! My question is how can I continue to produce life energy throughout all of life’s weather?

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