My first association with the theme word is the Ornate Box Turtle. I was just listening to a herpetologist on NPR using that word to describe a different species of turtle; apparently, there are a few that have earned the description in their common name. I met Boxy when I was volunteering at the Wehr Nature Center. Boxy is of an endangered species that inhabits the sandy areas of southwestern Wisconsin. She (I know because her eyes are brown, not red) has a cleverly hinged carapace that allows her to draw her head and limbs in and seal up almost completely when threatened. This is a picture taken through the not-quite-clean glass of her holding tank. It doesn’t do her coloring justice. She appears grumpy because she had just had her beak and nails trimmed at the vet. When it is grown out longer, the corners of her mouth don’t appear so down-turned.
Here is another example of the naturally ornate: wild turkey feathers. These are on a stuffed bird at the Madison Arboretum. The structural iridescence of feathers is a fascinating thing. They are not pigmented. They are prismed (if that’s a word). And each branch of the hair-like parts is barbed so that it will knit back together with its neighbor to form a more solid surface. When birds preen, they are re-knitting their feather edges.
Of course, Nature is often showing off in flowers. Ornate, breathtaking, in color and detail that is microscopically fine, often symmetrical, and elaborately patterned. Here are a few examples: a lily and Queen Anne’s lace.
Nature is extravagant, abundant, opulent, and rich in so many ways. Oh, and it is free. Just appears without us having to do anything. In fact, it becomes even more fantastic when we leave it alone. What a wonderful world!