02 June 2011 by Chris Marais

Love in the Time of Ostriches

My wife Jules and I were once in a desert on a stroll, when a distant ostrich showed uncommon interest in us.

“What shall we do?”, I enquired of my nature-loving wife. “They’re dangerous beasts! They can totally unzip you with their toes!”

“Relax,” she said, but not sounding that confident. “If it charges us we’ll just lie down.”

“But then it will sit on us,” I countered. Just then I had a brainwave.

“Let’s climb that shale hill,” I said. “Ostriches can’t climb shale hills.” And so we did.

The ostrich approached the base of the hill, gave us a sad little glance, turned about and wandered off into the sandy distance.

“You won’t believe what happened to us!”, we breathlessly informed our lodge manager upon our return. “An ostrich charged! We saved ourselves just in time!” Near-death, even the false perception of near-death, often makes one talk in exclamation marks.

“Oh, you must have met Christine,” the manager laughed. “She just wanted to make friends. In fact, if you scratch Christine behind one of her ears, she goes all gooey.”

The big bird, it turned out, was the current Employee of the Month. An Italian tourist was having a birthday, and demanded an ostrich egg for breakfast. But there was only Christine, the lodge ostrich, and no other. So she could obviously not lay an egg.

Nevertheless, at mid-morning someone spotted a freshly-laid ostrich egg out at the vehicle park, and brought it in triumphantly. Christine, it seems, had heard the request and complied with said egg. And another satisfied Italian tourist strolled contentedly into the sunset. The things we do in southern Africa to keep our foreign visitors happy…

Category: Culture & History

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