By Sarah West

I draw back the curtain, letting in the morning light. The kitchen is awash in a pale hue of butter yellow.
The kettle is a fire-engine red with polished lacquer. I run water, turn on the stove and listen for a subtle sounding poof, as it ignites to warm the water until the kettle whistles. I whisk the batter and pour dollops onto the skillet and add a light dash of cinnamon as it sizzle. I stack pancakes tall in a crystal dish, and sprinkle powdered sugar o’er each layer. I retrieve the kettle and tilt it over a white porcelain pour-over, atop one of my favorite coffee cups.
As I wait for the last of the pancakes to brown until golden, I gaze out the kitchen window and discover a marvel of craftsmanship. Exposed by recent shrubbery pruning, a large nest still suspended aloft thinned branches beckons me to pause and admire the intricacies established by it’s maker.
In recent weeks, I’ve found myself committed to increasing conversations and subjects of a time-lasting nature. These discussions have presented ways for better communication and reaffirmed values preserving common interests related to heritage, community structure and the footprints that future generations will follow.
In the humid morning air, I stand awed by this inspired work of natural construction. I’m compelled to further consider the thought- couldn’t we all learn so much, and preserve more, if we elect to follow nature’s architectural model. I consider the pioneering spirit of the small bird that builds its fortress with found objects, piece by piece, twigs and sticks. I’m reminded of a bird I once saw in a parking lot, carrying a stick twice its size. Furthermore, in the rising heat of August Alabama sun, I reflect on past visits to Tuskeegee. I think of George Washington Carver and his pioneering efforts to teach his pupils the benefits in resourceful innovation. To reexamine our current means of construction and our intent for it’s use ignites conviction and causes one to question- can our current practices withstand time’s weathering and do we uphold nature and steward co-existence.
The nest lasts, just as the handmade bricks of Tuskeegee’s campus. Non-obtrusive natural and man-powered construction can co-exist, when one informs the preservation of the other.
Sarah West serves the Opelika Observer as a contributing columnist, with written works of Cultural Arts relevance and prose. She is a preservation, and conservation advocate, activist, and visual artist of American Illustration with a focus on Regional Narrative Painting. She is founder of the Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art, A Center for Cultural Arts, Smiths Station, Alabama’s premier fine arts destination. She is the appointed Official Artist to the City of Smiths Station, a Lee County syndicated columnist, the director of her art center’s Cultural Arts Outreach Initiative which partners with local schools to make the arts accessible to all. She also serves a chief curator to the City of Smiths Station, City Hall Art Galleries. She is a founding member of the Smith Station Historic Commission. She is a member of the Women’s Philanthropy Board- Cary Center, Auburn University College of Human Science. She is an elected member of the Society of Illustrators- NYC. She mentors art students of every age through weekly classes at her studio located in the heart of Smiths Station, Alabama. To learn more about her work and activism visit,