A Swell Day
Characters: Reddy Red Squirrel, Willow Pinecone Gall, Oak Apple Gall, Goldenrod Ball Gall, Raspberry Knot Gall.
Reddy Red Squirrel One piney cone, two piney cones. I love pinecones and the little seeds I find inside them. And I’m counting on them to get me through the winter. Three piney cones…Oh, look! Here’s a pinecone I must have missed.
Willow Pinecone Gall Oh, boo hoo. Everyone thinks I’m a pinecone, but I’m not. If I were a pine, I’d have needles, wouldn’t I?
Squirrel Hey, you’re right. How can you be a pine without needles?
Willow Gall But I’m not a pine, I’m a willow. And this isn’t a pinecone, it’s a gall! A willow pinecone gall.
Squirrel Um, it galls me to ask this, but what’s a gall?
Willow Gall It’s a swelling on a plant that makes a home for a bug.
Squirrel You mean there’s a bug in there?
Willow Gall Uh huh. In the spring, a tiny gnat landed on me and laid an egg, and then my bud swelled up like this to make a home for it.
Squirrel You mean there’s a gnat inside?
Willow Gall Yes, gnaturally.
Squirrel Well, isn’t that neat!
Willow Gall No, it’s not! Because everyone thinks they’re pinecones. Oh, what willow I do? What willow I do? (exits)
Squirrel Gee, I can see why they’re called weeping willows. Well, I’m not going to find any more pinecones here.
Oak Apple Gall How about an apple!
Squirrel Oh, I love apples, fresh or dried like you. Yum.
Oak Apple Gall Hey, hey, hey, then take a nibble. You’re in for a surprise.
Squirrel I love surprises (nibbles) – yuck! You’re not an apple. You’re just a dry, empty case.
Oak Apple Gall Fooled you! I look like an apple, but I’m just part of an oak leaf that swelled up to make a home for an insect.
Squirrel Well gallee gee! Another gall!
Oak Apple Gall You got it. I’m an oak apple gall.
Squirrel Is there a gnat in there?
Oak Apple Gall No, there was a tiny wasp in the summer, but it’s gone now.
Squirrel I’m glad of that, or I’d be mad as a hornet! Thanks but no thanks! I won’t count on oak apple galls for a meal.
Oak Apple Gall That’s oak-kay with me! So long. (exits)
Squirrel Goodbye. Oh, hi there, Goldy Goldenrod. Wow, that big bulb on your stem must have lots of seeds in it!
Goldenrod No, no, Reddy Squirrel. My seeds are at the top of my stem. See?
Squirrel Oh, right. Then what’s that bump for?
Goldenrod It’s not just a bump. It’s a home for my larva.
Squirrel Your larva! You can’t fool me – plants don’t have larvae!
Goldenrod Not my larva, it’s a fly larva. A goldenrod gallfly larva. I made this snug little home for it while my stem was growing.
Squirrel Oh – I should have known! It’s the same gall story!
Goldenrod That’s right – it’s a goldenrod ball gall. In the spring, a new little gallfly will push its way out and fly away.
Squirrel There must be hundreds of goldenrod galls in this field. One gall, two galls, ninety sixty, forty… I could never count them all.
Goldenrod There are lots of galls on goldenrods, but you’ll never count them that way. Good luck, Reddy Squirrel! (exits)
Squirrel Lumps and bumps. Everywhere I look there are lumps and bumps! This is a bit galling! Even this raspberry has lumps on its stem.
Raspberry Knot Gall These lumps are knot galls.
Squirrel Oh good. Something different. So, Renée Raspberry, if they’re not galls, then what are they for?
Raspberry They’re for some wasps that needed a place to live. My stem swelled up like this to make them a home.
Squirrel But then it is a gall!
Raspberry Yes, like I said! It’s a raspberry knot gall. See, it looks like a knot on my stem.
Squirrel Hey, you’re getting me all tied up in knots. So you made a home in your stem for a whole nest of wasps? That was very big of you!
Raspberry Oh, knot at all! It was nothing. Galls don’t usually hurt us plants, so we don’t mind.
Squirrel You know, Renée Raspberry, I never knew there were so many kinds of galls. Knot galls, ball galls, cone galls, apple galls.
Raspberry Yes. Each kind of gall-maker uses just one kind of plant.
Squirrel And every gall-maker is counting on its plant to make it a safe little home.
Raspberry That’s true, Reddy Squirrel. When it comes to galls, you can always count on us plants!
Squirrel That’s because your galls are really swell! So long!