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A lesson on cooperation from America’s national symbol

By Paul Viau | Apr 27, 2016
Photo by: Courtesy of T.Pennington “TEAM WORK” BY T.PENNINGTON — Teresa Pennington, Artist of the Blue Ridge, drew inspiration from the bald eagles nesting at The National Arboretum in Washington, DC. If only congress could show this kind of team effort.

When America’s founding fathers looked for a symbol emblematic for our great nation, they chose the bald eagle. To them, this incredible work of Mother Nature soared above all God’s creatures — representing great strength, majestic beauty and long life.

That decision was made June 20, 1782, and now as we approach the month of June some 234 years later, America’s bald eagle is back in the news — more popular than ever before.

In fact, you can now view a nest cam of America’s symbolic ‘First Family’ — a mating pair of bald eagles who have nested high-up in a tulip poplar overlooking the azalea garden at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, DC.

According to the Audubon experts who track such things, this is the first pair of bald eagles to nest at the U.S. National Arboretum since 1947. That’s a year of great significance to my wife and I, for it was the year both of us were ‘hatched.’ And every day we are painfully reminded — just how long ago that was.

But, as usual, I digress.

Just one click on the Mac and I’m back on track, visiting www.dceaglecam.org, where I am surprised to see — for the first of many times I have viewed — both adult eagles have left the nest.

The nesting eaglets are now more than two months old, and no longer need constant care.

But no-doubt, the adult bald eagles, named ‘Mr. President’ and ‘The First Lady,’ are close-by, one keeping watch while the other hunts for the next meal for the baby bald eagles — now juveniles.

It’s hard to believe it has been more than two months since ‘The First Lady’ laid her two eggs — Feb. 10 and Feb. 14. What a happy Valentine’s Day present for the National Arboretum’s bald eagles.

America has watched day and night ever since, as the adult eagles did ‘what comes naturally’ — working together and taking turns roosting to keep the eggs warm.

On March 18 and March 20, viewers of the eagle cam got a real treat, watching the two eaglets hatch, and what followed was a non-stop symphony of ‘teamwork’ as the loving parents took turns hunting, feeding, grooming, cleaning — all the while protecting the eaglets from natural predators.

All of this was wonderful to watch, but one prominent local artist and nature lover — Waynesville’s own T. Pennington — saw a tremendous contrast between the teamwork found in nature and the partisan political bickering of the 2016 presidential race.

Teresa Pennington was so moved that she began a wonderfully detailed, colored pencil drawing of ‘Mr. President’ and ‘The First Lady’ working together in their nest in harmony, caring for their two, yet un-named eaglets. The drawing is titled “Team Work.”

Like all T. Pennington’s drawings, it is a mesmerizing work of carefully applied dots of color, themselves working as a team to bring this iconic scene to life. The detail of the eagle feathers and the nest construction are especially wonderful.

You can tell Pennington put her heart and soul in this drawing, and it is an astonishingly realistic glimpse of nesting bald eagles.

“I thought it was really poignant that they chose to grace us with their presence in such a volatile time in our nation’s capital,” said Pennington. “There is a lesson in the ‘team work’ between these beautiful creatures, but no one is paying attention.”

Teresa is absolutely right, in my opinion, and the newsprint image you see here does not do her drawing justice.

For a better look, visit www.TPennington.com, but I urge you to see the original drawing in the peace and tranquility of T. Pennington’s studio, 15 N. Main St. in Waynesville.

And if you are an eagle cam fan or follower, by the time you read this the eaglets will have their very own names, chosen by the people.

To see the names, view the eagle cam and learn fascinating facts about America’s national bird, visit www.dceaglecam.org.