By Sarah West

This morning, I retrieved eggs, cracked and poured them into the skillet, and stood peering out of the kitchen window. Toward the west, I took notice of a tree that I’d scarcely noticed before. The weather report predicted a cold front and rain moving eastward. The sky was embellished with tufted clouds likened to pillows, which tapered toward the horizon. The sunrise was pink and brightened to hues of melon. I often refer to such a color as, sherbet. Blues deepened opposite the sunrise, evoking sharp contrasts in all things touched by the early light.
I stood, eating breakfast while observing the same tree. It was first crimson, then it became enhanced by exquisite rays of luminosity. From the last stage of autumn reds, sunrise exposed carmine still alive in vibrant pigment. I couldn’t help but see stark resemblance, this observance of nature is quite like the human spirit.
In the right light we see things that we did not notice before. By casting the right light upon a person, one might aspire to be more than one might’ve perceived capable. I felt compelled to stand nearer the window sill. Instead of retiring to the table, I stood observing and I watched as the light did illuminate the picture. It became all the clearer. The color did not dim. It grew more vivid. Yet, as I admired nature’s portrayal reflecting human likeness, I also considered how this scene might differ at sunset.
There’s a mystery concealed by the darkness, a suffocating cloak which starves discernment. To read the book, one must turn on a light, and open it. To draw well, a pencil should be sharpened. And to truly appreciate a thing, we should observe it in all seasons. Times in our life require us to be stewards.
Sometimes we are called to prune and discard weights that otherwise restrain our potential, and at other times we must find comfort and renewal in the environment that we have cultivated through nurturing.
This morning I questioned how well I do know my trees. Both those among the landscape and those who have defined my life’s geography.
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 the 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. To learn more about her work and activism visit,