Sometimes, if you call me up, you may hear a voice in the background. This voice may say "Drink your water", or "Xooma Worldwide", or "I love you", or...just shriek obnoxiously. (Yes, I love that.)
This is the voice of July the parrot. July will also occasionally say "Pretty bird! Who's the pretty bird? Pretty bird!" She's a little vain, if you ask me. But it's always reinforced when people see her for the first time. As if on cue, they'll say, "What a pretty bird!"
On the face of it, there's not much about her that one might initially consider pretty. She's a gray bird with beady eyes and scaly feet. (And she screeches obnoxiously, don't forget that part.) Doesn't sound that pretty to me. However, she's got a striking red tail, and I think that's part of what hits people when they first see her. I think they're responding to the uniqueness and unexpectedness of seeing it. And when you see her up close, you really get to see all the minute details. I believe that is also what people are responding to. You can see how each little feather is rimmed in white, which creates a beautiful pattern as they overlap each other (think shingles on a roof); and how her intelligent eyes look almost golden at times, with shiny black pupils. You can see how the white part of her face gradually fades away into shades of gray and how the small gray feathers rimming her eyes gives them a little added definition. She's actually magnificent, when you really look at her. You can't help but to appreciate her design. Famed painter Georgia O'Keefe once said, "I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty." I understand exactly what she is talking about.
Personally, I believe that God is the creator of the universe and all things in it. And when I look at something like July, and see the intelligent and beautiful design (which encompasses both function and aesthetics), I can't help but give credit to God for being the Best. Designer. Ever.
George Washington Carver said, "I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in." And to sum up the words of Thomas Brown, "...nature is the art of God." I agree.
Beauty doesn't necessarily have to only be brightly colored peacock feathers. For something to be beautiful, it doesn't have to be "obvious" or in your face. It may not be initially realized until you start to take a closer look. It may be something that is just intuitively appealing in its simplicity. Part of beauty is simply intelligent design. Seeing something ordered and in its logical place, with a purpose, pieces fitting together perfectly. Being able to look at something and discerning its underlying purpose, and thereby recognizing its genius. Sometimes it is influenced by seeing something unique and unexpected, like July's red tail feathers, or seeing intricate patterns and delicate ornamentation.
I will always maintain that inspiration can oftentimes be found right around us, if we will take the time to look. And while I usually speak of this in the context of graphic or web design, the beauty of nature can be even more deeply inspiring, if we appreciate the Intelligent Designer behind it.
Back to July. The noises she makes sometimes...well, that's not always beautiful (though some of them are). But aside from that, July is, indeed, a pretty bird. At least I think so...what about you?