Little things make life worth living

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 1, 2013

This morning it was quail chicks. There were eight of them, with their mama and daddy, all scratching and pecking at the bird seed on the ground outside my window.
I sit at that window for hours, pecking on a computer like Big Bird in bifocals pecking at seed, pretending to work while really just watching those chicks.
I wish you could see them.

They look like little feathered watermelons, not much bigger than your thumb, doddering around on two spindly legs.
I can’t get my fill of them.

Twice a week or so, when my husband fills the feeders that hang from the pepper tree, he scatters extra seed under the window to lure the birds a bit closer to my eyes. He says he does it to make it easier for the ground feeders to forage.
Maybe so. But mostly he does it for me. I like birds the way some women like jewelry. He likes to keep me well-supplied.
Birds are not the only small things I watch. When I go to Trader Joe’s (my favorite market and home away from home), I stop by the pet store to check out all the pups. I wish you could see them.
Shelties, Labs, dachshunds, Yorkies. Some of them ignore me. They won’t event sniff my hand. But there’s always one or two that will give me a look that says, “OK, I’m ready, write a big check and let’s go home.”
So I try to explain why I can’t take them home because I travel a lot, they’d be alone and they deserve a better life than I can give them. Then I hang my head and go home to watch birds.
Birds are easier to watch than dogs. They never want to go home with you. And they don’t bark when you leave.
My favorite little things are little people. Grandchildren, for example. Mine, in particular. I wish you could see them.
When I can’t watch them in person, I study photos and videos that their mamas are kind enough to send to me: Randy, almost 3, reads a book to his baby brother. Charlotte, 20 months, plays with a friend. Henry, one day younger than Charlotte, picks daisies for his mama. And 5-month-old Wiley tries to eat his own foot.
I compare the images, early to recent, to see how much they’ve changed and grown. I pray daily for their health, their safety and their parents. I keep watch over them long-distance until I can watch them again up close.

I love watching them up close. But I like watching other little people, too. All little people.
Yesterday in the checkout line at Trader Joe’s, I watched a very little girl hand groceries, one by one, from her mother’s basket to the clerk at the counter.
Something in that exchange — hand to hand, smile to smile, trusting child to caring adult — made me profoundly happy.
There comes a point in life — after you’ve lived long enough to suffer the loss of people you thought you’d never lose — that you begin to realize, in ways you never did before, that no one lives forever on this Earth.
No one. Not even you.

It’s not a bad realization. Really, it’s a good thing to know. Like candles on an altar or a porch light late at night, it sheds just enough light to make some things clearer and other things easier to bear.
And then, pretty soon, you find yourself spending a lot of time watching little things — birds and babies and dogs and such, little pieces of life.
Thank God for little things.

They remind us that we are part of something bigger, more lasting, more important than ourselves.
They make us smile.

They give us hope.
They bring us peace.

They sing an old song with a two-word refrain that is new every morning: Life persists.
I love that song. We can sing it, too. They will teach us to sing it with them, if we watch them.
Life persists.

And so do we.

Contact Sharon Randall at