THE LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE

Flowered kettle

When we left for Florida this past January I forgot to empty the water from our very serviceable kettle that we have had for perhaps the last twenty years. The morning after we returned home in mid March I was getting breakfast and picked up the kettle to fill it with water for making coffee. Only the kettle didn’t need water. It had enough water in it already to have successfully corroded its inside. Usually when we’ re going to be gone I am sure to empty the kettle – this time I forgot. We have always had very practical kettles with no bells and whistles, just very utilitarian. Our replacement has a musical whistle when the water is boiling; the handle doesn’t transmit heat so you don’t need a potholder to hold it ; and it is very pretty. A pretty kettle was never on my wish list but this kettle gives me such pleasure as I use it daily and it sits proudly on our stove. My feelings for the kettle have made me reflect on the small things in life that give pleasure.

We have a hummingbird feeder in our backyard. I had never seen a humming bird till we moved to our present home thirty year ago. It was our son-in-law Paul who introduced me to hummingbirds. He and our daughter Maura have a feeder right outside their porch. We were there one time when a hummingbird dined at their feeder. I was hooked. We got our own feeder and thus began my hummingbird education. Hummingbirds are the smallest of birds and they are native to North and South America. They live for from three to five years. The ruby throated hummingbird is found in the eastern half of the United States. They start arriving in the Washington area in the Spring. Paul and I have a fun competition going each year for the first hummingbird sighting of the season.

Now that I have some arthritis issues, I have given up back-hurting gardening. My focus instead is on pot planting on our patio. Aside from battling the deer who also seem to focus on our patio plants, this has proved to be very rewarding. This year I wanted to add variety to my typical patio plants. After a conversation with a gardening consultant from Greener Partners (a non profit run by our daughter Meg ) I started some zinnia seeds (not a favorite of the deer) which have now grown into some pretty spectacular plants. Before my conversation with the consultant I was not familiar with giant zinnias – not sure that “giant” is the correct terminology but that is what they seem to me. Their orange and deep red colors are so vibrant they give me much pleasure. As do the different herbs which she also suggested . Deer don’t like the herbs either. What fun to be making a recipe that calls for fresh parsley or thyme, or basil, or oregano and to walk out to the patio and just pick some. Could be my imagination but I think it makes the food taste better.

Two new additions to our backyard this year are a solar pump that sends up water spouts, and a squirrel proof bird feeder. The hummingbirds have given us so much pleasure that we wanted an environment that would entice a variety of birds into our yard. The bird feeder has fulfilled its mission. We have enjoyed cardinals, yellowbirds, bluebirds, and other birds that we have yet to identify. We were originally going to float the pump in a bird bath from our local garden center but after a month a waiting for them to replenish their bird bath stock , we purchased a large ceramic flower pot , filled it with water, put in the solar spray, and placed it in the bed of vinca which houses the squirrel proof bird feeder. So far the birds have ignored the chance to bathe in the water or experience the spray but Jerry and I love the spray. It is so responsive to the vagaries of the sun and is a classic example of solar power. When the sun is out the spray exhibits its spraying function. When the clouds come or nightfall starts to set in, the solar spray looses its power or just disappears. Guess this is basic solar spray functioning 101.

On days that we don’t golf ( arthritis has turned golf into a two day a week activity) we try to get in a good walk. Our neighborhood offers four possible routes that we favor, some more shaded than others. The outside temperature guides our route taking decision. One thing that makes these walks so pleasurable is the feeling of solidarity we have with fellow walkers. It used to be that most everybody was in their own little world. Now even with social distancing there is an exchange of warm greetings or hand waving with most everyone we meet. It would appear that the pandemic isolation has had a positive effect on our appreciation of one another.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said ” life is a journey not a destination. ” It is an appreciation of the little things that adds interest and excitement to the journey. The big things like landing the perfect job, taking that long planned for trip, marriage, having children – these big events are made more meaningful by the little events surrounding them.

That perfect job didn’t just come out of the blue – it was probably the result of hard work both in school and in the job market where there were many instances of the “little things” that made this period of life more meaningful. Marriage and having children provide daily joyful occasions built on meaningful little events. We had our five children in five and a half years. It was challenging and very rewarding.. There were and continue to be so many instances of positive “little things”. I remember one time when son Jerry was 18 months old and baby Maura was thee months old. I was nursing Maura and Jerry was playing with blocks on the floor near bye. After I got comfy in the rocking chair with Maura and she was nursing contentedly I realized I had forgotten a diaper to put on my shoulder when it was burping time. I said to Jerry who had just learned to walk ” Oh Jerry , I need a diaper for burping baby sister”. I was just thinking out loud. The next thing I knew Jerry – who had just learned to walk – got himself up and went toddling down the hall to the baby’s room. He returned with a diaper. I was surprised and pleased and, pardon my bragging, very proud.

I am not exactly sure of the proper definition of the “little things ” in life. Each day is made up of little things. The big events of our lives don’t happen each day – little things do. Some times they are obvious – sometimes we have to look for them. According to Google, ” an appreciation of little things means  practicing gratitude for those everyday things that are easy to take for granted or miss altogether.” As we age and health issues at times seem to take over our days it is easy to pass over the ” little things”. We must not let that happen!!!


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