IN OLDEN TIMES, our forefathers huddled around the fire and told the story of Why the Osprey Has No Xylophone. Now our forefathers are all dead, and serve them right. And this is the story they told:—

Many moons ago—Io, and Europa, and Charon, and Titan, and Ganymede, and Phobos, and Triton, and Callisto, and Oberon, and Tethys ago—the osprey was king of all the birds. At that remote time the avian world was governed as a constitutional monarchy, and the osprey’s duties were confined to opening shopping centers, signing letters of commendation, and posing for portraits on currency, which, in the days before printing, naturally took up most of a reigning monarch’s schedule.

One day the osprey told his prime minister, an ambitious young herring gull, “I should like to have a tulip.”

“Get it yourself,” replied the prime minister, who  was positively mad with power.

So the osprey set out on an epic quest for a tulip. He traveled to the ends of the earth, slew monsters, ate at dreadful fast-food joints, and endured such hardships as no king before or since has ever endured. At length he came to a plateau in Anatolia that was carpeted from end to end with tulips, but he decided that tulips weren’t all they were cracked up to be and flew home disappointed.

On his return, he discovered that his throne had been declared vacant, and the former prime minister was now ruling as General Secretary of the People’s Revolutionary Council. “We don’t need kings anymore,” he explained. “But we do have an opening for a new registrar of deeds.”

Having tried out that position for a month, however, the osprey decided that if he never registered another deed it would be just peachy. He therefore went into business for himself selling collectible porcelain figurines to pigeons, who have an insatiable appetite for that sort of thing. Eventually he retired to a trailer park outside Sarasota, where as far as anyone knows he still resides today. And that, dear children, is why the osprey has no xylophone, but has a marimba instead.


  1. Bruce says:

    Clearly, Sir, and with a most profound sense of respect for your august Person, you are not a well man.

  2. Alan Kellogg says:


    The good doctor is, blessed, with a rather odd sense of humor. Non sequitors is but a part of it.

  3. cs says:

    Aristophanes was odd. Dr. Boli is refreshingly less odd than the headline news, I dare say.

  4. Jared says:

    Oftimes fables have a deeper meaning, if one will but probe, and the venerable tale of the dethroned osprey is no exception. One finds, upon reflection, a cautionary tale regarding the Reformed faith.

    The osprey, you see, is a fisher, just as Christ commanded of his followers. In time, however, he grows dissatisfied with his role in the Kingdom, as he sees himself as a mere functionary under a system of divine election — a king with no agency, as it were. He thus embarks on a long and perilous journey through Reformed theology, in search of that strange “TULIP” lying at the heart of Calvinism, which he expects to find in that mythical Rushdoonian land. The quest, initiated by a seeker, is itself an ironical rebuke of Reformed orthodoxy, and indeed, the seeker soon loses faith in the TULIP.

    Unfortunately, upon his return, he finds that the people have finally rebelled against the strictures of Calvinism in the name of free will, but in a further ironic twist, he finds that the people have exercised their agency in giving it up, exchanging a doctrine of determinism for a government thereof, their ancient acclimation proving too powerful to overcome.

    The collectible porcelain figurines are, of course, symbolic of the Iconoclastic controversy, and the trailer park may be understood as a somewhat disparaging reference to Geneva.

    The purport of the marimba is lost to history, but it does suggest startling conclusions regarding the fable writer’s take on the Regulative Principle.

  5. Alan Kellogg says:

    And sometimes a Coke is only a soda.

  6. Bruce Roeder says:

    Doesn’t the xylophone symbolize the imposed organization of post-Enlightenment Europe while the marimba symbolizes the free form, spontaneity of native people? The pigeons are likewise, simple, child-like souls who still accept sacred tradition and the divine right of kings?

    Or maybe a Coke IS only a soda. I wonder what’s for lunch?

  7. Jared says:

    Ah, Mr. Kellogg, but Dr. Boli has tipped his hand. Not even so figurative an expression as many moons lacks for a precise analogue — Io, Europa, Charon, etc.

    And the pigeons. Don’t even get me started on the pigeons.

  8. Alan Kellogg says:


    Beware the coos of March.

  1. […] In JUNE, the dear little ones among our readers were entertained, or not, with the story of Why the Osprey Has No Xylophone. […]

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