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blue jay feather

blue jay feather, against the light

It is such a humble entity. It is nearly weightless. It doesn’t worry its owner to lose one or three of it. It becomes dull coloured the moment you hold it up against the light, and for so many owners it is a dull colour even to begin with, as it seeks to provide camouflage in the bushes. And yet, it gave humanity one of its earliest and greatest dreams, the dream to fly. A solitary blue jay feather, found on a dusty trail is enough to put me in mind of Icarus, such is the power of flight.

I am glad that it was a bright coloured feather though, because I doubt I would have carefully placed it in my tiny camera case and flown home with it (!) had it been some dull coloured one. (I know, so superficial of me.) But bright or dull, they serve the same purpose — to get their owners to defy gravity. (Well, okay, not if the owner is, say, an ostrich.) Thanks to feathers, bird(brain)s flit about hither and thither, while we, with our huge, complex brains merely plod along, footstep in front of boring footstep.

Feathers serve other purposes too — protection from the elements, camouflage, and a major role during mate selection. As with the skins of lychees, they frequently combine great beauty with great functionality. What more can any object hope for?

(Here is the complete Perfection series.)

and a mini

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