Sunday, September 04, 2011

Musical Conversations

Tonight, Rachel and I were singing songs from Joseph (what else) before bed. We had just started singing...

Some folks dream of the wonders they'll do
Before their time on the planet is through

Some just don't have anything planned
They hide their hopes and their heads in the sand....

...when Rachel interrupted me to clarify the lyrics.

"Is it heads or hands?" she asked, "Because hiding your head in the sand doesn't make much sense. You'd get sand in your eyes. I think it's hand. You keep saying head."

"It's head—there's a saying about hiding your head in the sand. It means you're afraid of something."

"That's funny. I never hide my head in the sand when I get scared."

"Well, the phrase actually comes from ostriches. Sometimes it looks like ostriches hide their heads in the sand to get out of scary situations."

"Oh. Do ostriches make mangoes?"

" ostriches make mangoes?" I repeated.

"Yeah. Do they?"

"No. Ostriches are birds, sweetie. Mangoes grow on trees."

"I know. But do ostriches plant and take care of the mango trees?"

"Ummm...I don't think so."

"I think I know what bird you're talking about now. It's got long legs and a long neck and a long beak. Like a giraffe, only a bird. What if you mixed up a giraffe and an ostrich together. Then it would be like a giraffe with wings!"

"Yeah, well. I think it's time to lie down now. You can dream of ostrich-giraffes."

"No! That would be a scary dream!"

"I think it would be a silly dream."

"Maybe it would be," sighed Rachel, and settled into her pillow.

Ostriches don't hide their heads in the sand, apparently, but the idea that they do has been in place for a long time. Gaius Plinius Secundus—or Pliny the Elder, as he was known to his friends—who wrote the first encyclopedia in an attempt to record all the knowledge of the Romans back before even 100 AD (he died in 79 AD while researching the effects of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius (as well as making rescue efforts) in Pompeii). He wrote, in book 10 of 37 that ostriches "imagine, when they have thrust their head and neck into a bush that the whole of their body is concealed."

When sitting on their eggs, however, they will lay down and rest their head and neck on the sand and because the feathers on their head and neck camouflage so well with the sand it can appear that they have buried their head in the sand—their bodies then look like a grassy clump to predators instead of a yummy ostrich. They apparently also lay their necks flat on the ground to aid in swallowing grit to help them digest their food.

I didn't find anything about mangoes and ostriches, though, other than recipes for ostrich and mango salad. Where does one even find an ostrich steak?


The other day Miriam asked me to sing the "Lollipop Home" song.

"I don't know Lollipop Home," I told her. "How does it go?"

She got her tickling fingers out and started running them up my arm.

"Wee, wee, wee, wee!" she sang and finished with gusto, tickling me right under my chin, "Lollipop home!"

"Oh! You mean This Little Piggy! That I can sing."

And then we played This Little Piggy over and over and over again just so that I could hear her sing the last few words because every time she says it I giggle.

Do you know what also makes me giggle? This quote from the Wikipedia article about This Little Piggy:
"Although the game is usually played on a baby, it can be played on anyone with at least 5 toes." 
This, unfortunately, means that playing this game with an ostrich is out of the question since ostriches only have two toes on each foot. They can also kick hard enough to kill so I'm not sure you'd want to attempt it even if they had enough toes.


  1. Ostrich steak was on the menu is South Africa. A lot of my friends tried it--I would rather eat my mangoes without ostrich on the side.

  2. I can order cuts of ostrich steak at a local butcher here in Virginia. They don't have it in stock all the time (though the website says that right now they have wild kangaroo filet - intriguing!), but I can call in for it and they'll get it within a few days.

    As for This Little Piggy - my mom still plays that on our feet. Also, when I was laid up after foot surgery, she was supposed to check on my circulation, so she'd play This Little Piggy. Fortunately, she was very gentle, because me jerking my reconstructed foot away would have been problematic.

  3. I had ostrich at a wedding in Challis, Idaho where the family raised them.

  4. lol. Who wouldda thought that ostriches don't actually hide their heads in the sand. Rachel is a genius.