Characters: Maple Tree, Charlie Chipmunk, Sarah Sapsucker, Sammy Squirrel, Tiny Fir Tree
Maple Tree (tapping noise) Who’s that nibbling on my toes?
Chipmunk That was me, Maple Tree, chewing on these little roots down here.
Tree Listen, Charlie Chipmunk, I need those roots. Look how big my trunk is, and all these branches. I couldn’t stand up without strong roots to anchor me.
Chipmunk I’ll say they’re strong. They get into cracks in the rock, and start to grow thicker. Pretty soon the rock splits in two!
Tree Well, they’re just searching for water, wherever they can find it.
Chipmunk I guess that’s the root of the problem. Well, they won’t find water in my tunnels. I make sure of that.
Tree Maybe not, but they can find gallons of water in the soil. Then I pull it up through my trunk, to the tips of my branches and the top of my crown – a hundred feet above the ground.
Chipmunk Makes me dizzy. I’m not fond of heights. Why do you need all that water?
Tree A lot of it goes into the air. We trees are part of the water cycle, you know, moving water from the ground to the air.
Chipmunk You lift water a hundred feet high just to let it go into the air?
Tree No, no, we need it for growing.
Chipmunk Growing more roots?
Tree And wood, bark, leaves – all of it. But I won’t be growing any more this year. I’ll be dormant while the ground is frozen.
Chipmunk Me too. I’ve got a nice pile of seeds stored up for winter. So long. (exits)
Tree Hurrumph. I’ll bet they’re maple seeds! Pesky little Chipmunk! (tap, tap, tap) Now what? Who’s that pecking at my bark?
Sarah Sapsucker It’s just me, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
Tree Sapsucker? Hey, you’re a kind of woodpecker, aren’t you?
Sapsucker Sure am. I’m just checking your bark for insects.
Tree Well, you’re barking up the wrong tree. My bark protects me from insects and disease.
Sapsucker True, I can find more to eat on dead snags than on a healthy tree like you. But I love the sweet sap I get from just under your bark in the spring.
Tree Don’t I know it! And people take the sap from my sapwood to make maple syrup. Everyone wants to bore holes in me!
Sapsucker Must be pretty boring! Where does the sweetness come from – your roots?
Tree No, no. I make the sugar in my leaves, and then I store it inside my trunk.
Sapsucker You make sugar out of air?
Tree Not just air. Air, and water, and minerals from the soil.
Sapsucker Well, that’s a good trick! And you don’t even need batteries?
Tree No batteries. I’m solar-powered.
Sapsucker Wow – the latest technology! Well, I hope you store lots of sugar in your sap – for me! See you next spring! (exits)
Tree Hurrumph. Pesky Woodpecker! (shakes) Now what? Who’s that bouncing on my branches?
Sammy Squirrel It’s just me, Sammy Squirrel. Your branches make great suspension bridges for us squirrels. Watch this, whoo-hoo! (leaps back and forth)
Tree Hey, my branches are not a jungle gym! They hold up my twigs! And my twigs hold up the leaves so they can catch sunlight and take in air.
Squirrel I hope they don’t take all the air. I need it to breathe! Phew, I’m outta breath!
Tree You wouldn’t have any air you could breathe if it weren’t for us trees.
Squirrel Air you serious?
Tree It’s no joke! We plants make almost all the oxygen in the air. And we clean the air, too – by taking out the carbon dioxide.
Squirrel Well, I guess I can breathe easier now! And now that I’ve caught my breath, I’m going over to that pine and see if I can squirrel away some cones for winter. (exits)
Tree Hurrumph! Pesky Squirrel. I’m tired of being chewed and drilled and jumped on and bothered with silly questions!
Small Fir Tree Yoo hoo! Mr. Maple!
Tree Now what? A pesky little fir tree! Listen, Little Fir, I’m tired, so please go away.
Fir I can’t! I’m simply rooted to this spot!
Tree Well then leaf me alone!
Fir I can’t do that either. I’ve got needles!
Tree Then quit needling me!
Fir But I just have a question. It’s about your leaves. They used to be green, and now they’re yellow and orange. Are they dyed?
Tree Dyed? No! The green is chlorophyll. You’ve got chlorophyll in your needles, too. It’s the stuff we need to capture sunlight.
Fir But your leaves aren’t green anymore. They’re yellow and orange.
Tree Well I don’t need the chlorophyll anymore because I’m shutting down for winter. Now that the green is gone, you can see the other colors that are in my leaves.
Fir Well, you sure look beautiful! You may be shutting down for the winter, but you’re going out in a blaze of glory!
Tree Aw, gee, thanks. I think you look beautiful all year long. You know, little fir, we’re different from each other but we do a lot of the same things.
Fir Yup! We both catch sunlight and make sugar and oxygen, and pump water, and feed animals…We trees are really tree-mendous!
Tree That we are, Little Fir. That we are!