By Chris Stucchio
As I get older, I find myself appreciating things I never noticed, liked or cared about — or just took for granted — when I was much younger.
A couple of summers ago, my wife, Lori, and I got a panorama bird feeder that we hung from the side of our garage in the backyard at our house, which is four streets from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. I was surprised at how much I eventually enjoyed sitting on the back porch and watching the birds swoop in to get their food from multiple angles.
For the first two weeks after we got it, we didn't see any birds use it, but one squirrel tried. We have a tall maple tree in back, and a long branch fell from it near the bird feeder. The squirrel kept climbing to the end of it, and then he would stare at the bird feeder, which was only a few inches away directly in front of him, but he couldn't figure out a way to climb onto the circular perch to get any food.
Shortly after we got the branch removed, a couple of sparrows and robins started to use the bird feeder. Within a few days, quite a few birds began stopping by in the morning and early evening, while a few would visit periodically throughout the day. Sometimes when they came in groups they would knock each other off the perch and fight a little bit. At times I wanted to go over and explain to the smaller ones that they could just come back in a few minutes and have as much food as they wanted without any hassle, because I was constantly refilling the bird feeder, but then I remembered they were birds and wouldn't understand.
At some point, several beautiful, eye-catching cardinals started to visit our backyard, but they didn't actually eat directly from the bird feeder. Instead they would pick up food that had spilled over the edges onto the rock garden and grass just below it. As much as I loved seeing the other birds, the cardinals got all of my attention whenever they arrived.
During the fall semester of my sophomore year at Buffalo State College in 1986, I had a romanticism English class in the mornings at Ketchum Hall. Early in the year the weather was nice, so the windows were open, and I could hear the school's Rockwell Hall clock tower chiming every 15 minutes. Even though I enjoyed that romanticism course, it seemed like it took forever for each class to end. Eventually the sound of the chimes just became a constant reminder of how slowly the time was passing, nothing more.
A couple of years ago, we adopted Rocket, a mixed-breed rescue dog from Puerto Rico, and occasionally when I'm walking him in his wheelchair, I can hear those same Rockwell Hall clock tower chimes — they seem hauntingly nostalgic to me now and remind me of how quickly time is passing and how much I would love to be sitting in that romanticism English class, when the possibilities for life seemed endless.
Recently, Lori got a big wind chime for our front porch. I can hear it anywhere inside the house when the windows are open and the wind is blowing, especially early in the morning when it’s quiet outside. It has a very relaxing, tranquil, mystical sound. There was a time in my life when I would have laughed at the idea of owning a wind chime.
Now I think the world could use a few more of them, don't you?
Chris Stucchio of Buffalo has a new appreciation for the little things in life.