Life's Little Delights!

By Annie Tobey | July 24th, 2020

Ephemeral or physical, commonplace or extraordinary, some things seem to naturally make us smile

A senior couple celebrating the delights in their life

BOOMER asked our readers and other favorite Richmonders what makes them happy, satisfied, delighted, joyful – and why. Then we searched for familiar and beloved references and images to help illustrate these smile stimulators. And we put our discoveries together in a collage of delight.

Which of these bring a smile to your face and warmth to your soul?


  • “‘In Wildness is the preservation of the World,’ observed Henry David Thoreau … Today, this is the core of the ecological message: break up natural ecosystems and there will be hell to pay – droughts, floods, fires and social instability. To preserve nature, simply immerse yourself in it. You’ll become an advocate … and the bad things will slow down for your efforts. As a younger man, my wife and I snorkeled and explored the channels between the islands in the James River Park System; today [we explore] … things that don’t move much … Immersion in nature soothes the soul and adds to the spirituality of life.” Ralph White, manager of the James River Park System for 32 years
Ralph White and his wife, Cricket, at Cedar Breaks National Monument
Ralph White and his wife, Cricket, at Cedar Breaks National Monument | Photograph courtesy of Ralph White

Other quotes

  • 🎶 “Living in the sweet Virginia breeze.” 🎶 Robbin Thompson and Steve BassettRobbin Thompson and Steve Bassett
  • “The forest offers beauty and poetry to those who are open to it … It feels like a shift of the heart, like falling in love. The forest is worthy of being loved, and of being mourned when it is gone. It is more than trees and timber dollars and habitat. It is a spirit-filled place.” From The Living Forest: A Visual Journey into the Heart of the Woods, by photographer Robert Llewellyn and Joan Maloof
  • “Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy.” John Denver
  • “Summer breeze makes me feel fine.” Seals & Crofts

Reader quotes

  • “Sitting by the ocean listening to the waves crashing.” Carolyn C.
  • “The river.” Bill S.
  • “The sun, full moon, trees, flowers.” Amy B.
  • “A warm sunny day with a cool breeze.” Katharine P.
  • “Birds singing, spring rain, sunshine.” Beth H.
  • “The rain making all the new greenery and flowers come out.” Deborah P.
  • “The view from my window of big old trees bursting with life.” Debra P.
  • “Warm weather.” Edward B.

Outdoor delights are easy to enjoy in the OBX!


Featured quote

  • “People with pets lead happier, healthier lives. Pets push us to live in the present, enjoy life’s simple pleasures, get exercise and stop feeling lonely. Nothing feels more joyful at the end of a hard day than coming home to a pet’s enthusiastic and loving welcome.” Robin Robertson Starr, member of the Richmond SPCA Board of Directors
Robin Starr with Minnie at the Richmond SPCA
Robin Starr with Minnie | Photograph courtesy of the Richmond SPCA

Other quotes

  • “All creatures great and small.” Cecil Frances Alexander
  • 🎶 “If I could walk with the animals, talk with the animals, grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals, and they could talk to me.” 🎶 Rex Harrison in Doctor Dolittle

Reader quotesCute dog and cat

  • “My cats.” Bill S.
  • “My dogs.” Beth H.
  • “Animals’ soft fur.” Debra P.
  • “Our dog.” Deborah P.


Featured quote

  • “I wouldn’t trade the last two years for the world. Living in a multigenerational family is hard but the best blessing. My grandmother’s sheer presence taught my kids wisdoms I could never teach.” Heidi Cardenas Weaver, whose home hosted four generations of her family
Heidi Cardenas Weaver and her multigenerational family
Heidi Cardenas Weaver and her multigenerational family

Other quotes

  • 🎶 “Thank you for all of your trust; thank you for not giving up; thank you for holding my hand … I’m thankful for the time I spent with my best friend.” 🎶 Jason Mraz

    Dionne Warwick
    Dionne Warwick
  • 🎶 “For good times and bad times, I’ll be on your side forever more. That’s what friends are for.” 🎶 Dionne Warwick
  • 🎶 “People let me tell you about my best friend, he’s a warm-hearted person who loves me till the end.” 🎶 Harry Nilsson in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father
  • 🎶 “Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you’ve got to do is call, and I’ll be there, yes I will. You’ve got a friend.” 🎶 Carole King
  • 🎶 “Rainy day people always seem to know when you’re feelin’ blue.” 🎶 Gordon Lightfoot
  • 🎶 “I get by with a little help from my friends.” 🎶 The Beatles

Reader quotes

  • “Family” and “friends” Gail R., Judy H., Cody S., Beth H., Deborah P., Amy B.
  • “Being with others. Talking to them. Hearing how they feel and how they see things. Telling them about me and how I feel and how I see things.” Mary C.
  • “The knowledge that I and those I love are safe and healthy in these trying times.” Debra P.
  • “My hubby.” Fran M.
  • “My grandkids.” Kimberly S.
  • “Seeing my children happy.” Santos G.

Friendship and food have paired for the Red Lion Dining Club for 27 years.


Featured quote

J. Plunky Branch and his saxophone
J. Plunky Branch | Photograph by Patrick Mamou
  • 🎶 “Music is universal and it can be oh, so joyful. As a performer or producer, there is no greater delight than sharing melodies and grooves and lyrics and then getting feedback that we are indeed sharing positive experiences and good vibes with our audiences.” 🎶 J. Plunky Branch, Richmond-based musician and music producer

Other quotes

  • 🎶 “Just take those old records off the shelf, I’ll sit and listen to ’em by myself. Today’s music ain’t got the same soul. I like that old-time rock ’n’ roll.” 🎶 Bob Seger
  • 🎶 “I love rock ’n’ roll, so put another dime in the jukebox, baby.” 🎶 Joan Jett

Reader quotes

  • “Music.” Deborah P., Beth H., Donna F., Katharine P.
  • “Dancing.” Deborah P.
  • “The arts, preferably live.” Debra P.
  • “The stirring power of a symphonic movement or a live concert, the soothing tones of a lullaby.” Marta O.


Crossroads art center
Curney Nuffer and Susan Dull, artist and art student | Photograph courtesy of Crossroads Art Center

Featured quote

  • “I can’t imagine my world without art and painting and teaching.” Curney Nuffer, visual artist and instructor, Crossroads Art Center

Other quotes

  • “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso


Featured quote

  • “As I have traveled higher education’s journey of learning, discovering and engaging, I am frequently reminded of my father’s simple message to me: ‘Son, in all of your getting (education), get understanding (wisdom).’ You see, education is a tremendous vehicle that can take you many places in life, but he knew it was the wisdom and understanding gained through one’s life that would fuel it.” M. Ray McKinnie, Ph.D., dean at College of Agriculture, Virginia State University
Three men at Casselmonte Farm
Dr. M. Ray McKinnie (center) and Ronald Hower (right) of VSU College of Agriculture visit Casselmonte Farm in Powhatan owned by Bill (left) and India Cox | Photograph courtesy of Virginia State University

Other quotes

  • “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Henry Miller
  • “Learn as if you were to live forever.” Mahatma Gandhi
  • “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” Gustave Flaubert
  • “Live with no excuses and travel with no regrets.” Oscar Wilde
  • “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” Robert Louis Stevenson

Reader quotes

  • “A good book.” Katharine P., Beth H.


Other quotes

  • “I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills.” Audrey Hepburn

Couple full of delights

Reader quotes

  • “Laughing.” Deborah P.
  • “Babies laughing.” Debra P.
  • “Playing games with friends.” Daniella C.
  • “Laughing so hard your side hurts.” Jamal J.

Christine Walters has been spreading laughter through improv comedy for years.


Featured quote

  • “After recovering from my own life-threatening illness in 2010, I began searching for a way to give back. I’m honored to be able to provide hope to kids at such a vulnerable time in their lives. For me, being a wish granter with Make-A-Wish is akin to being a fairy godmother. It’s the most rewarding volunteer work I’ve ever done!” Anita Crean, wish granter with Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia
Make-a-Wish volunteer and child with a puppy
Anita Crean, who has granted 29 wishes (with another five in progress) since 2015, is pictured here with wish kid Noah and his wish, Sadie. | Photograph courtesy of Make-a-Wish Greater Virginia

Other quotes

  • “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Mother Teresa


Featured quote

Chef Mike Ledesma | Photograph courtesy of Mike Ledesma, Perch restaurant
Chef Mike Ledesma | Photograph courtesy of Mike Ledesma, Perch restaurant
  • Of cooking food for others, especially at his Richmond restaurant, Perch: “I love the smiles (more through eyes these days) I see when feeding the front lines. Makes all the hard work worth it! And it keeps the team motivated to make a difference every day.” Mike Ledesma, owner and chef, Perch

Other quotes

  • “A party without cake is just a meeting.” Julia Child

Reader quotes

  • “Cupcakes. I love cupcakes with real icing, not that whipped stuff.” Lynne R.
  • “A glass of wine.” Beth H.
  • “Chocolate ice cream.” Katharine P.
  • “Food that involves ketchup.” Sonya S.
  • “Chocolate and alcohol, especially Irish whiskey.” Deborah P.
  • “Red wine.” Debra P.


  • “Running has given me so much. It gets me enjoying the outdoors, it takes me to gorgeous neighborhoods, it allows me to see wildlife along park trails; I am always meeting new people; my closest friends developed from running together – but best of all, it gives me enthusiasm and excitement for life!” Rosie Schutte, Richmond runner
Runners on the Huguenot Bridge for a morning run
On the Huguenot Bridge for a morning run: (left to right) Dawn Eberhard, George Turner, Rosie Schutte, Elaine Casper, Jeffrey Luke, Mike McCloud


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