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 the subtle sounding¬†poof,¬†as it ignites. The kettle is warmed until it whistles. I whisk batter and pour dollops onto the skillet, and add a light dash of cinnamon as it sizzles. I stack the pancakes tall in 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.

Image | Sarah West local eggs gifted to me by one of my students
Image | Sarah West
local eggs gifted to me by one of my students

In recent weeks, I’ve found myself committed to increasing conversations on 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 nearby 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 its use ignites conviction and causes one to question- can out 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 engineering can co-exist when one informs the preservation, and conservation of the other.

—Art is Life Expressed— Sarah West

Image | Sarah West
Image | Sarah West