Characters: Benjy Bear, Sappy Sapsucker, Sammy Squirrel, Carpenter Ant Queen, Sally Salamander.
Props: dead snag, rotting log, spray bottle, cotton balls, loop on back of stage to hold up props.
(Dead snag prop on stage.)
Benjy Bear Gee, look at all these rotten snags and logs. As manager of this forest, I need to do a little house cleaning. Better get rid of some of the dead wood, like this old, rotten maple tree here.
Sappy Sapsucker Wait just a minute, Benjy Bear! I need that tree!
Bear Why, Sappy Sapsucker, I don’t think you’ll get any more sap out of this old tree.
Sapsucker No, of course not! It’s rotten to the core. We had our nest in it last spring.
Bear Then what do you need it for? I want to clean up the forest and this dead tree’s an eye sore.
Sapsucker I need it for drumming, to advertise my territory. And Ollie Owl likes to perch here to hunt. If you remove this old hollow snag, it’ll make some critters pretty mad. And that’s no hollow threat! (exits)
Bear Well, it sure looks messy…
Sammy Squirrel Hi, Benjy. Like our new home? We just moved into this old sapsucker hole. It’s perfect for our family.
Bear Hello, Sammy Squirrel. I didn’t know anyone was living in this old snag.
Squirrel Are you kidding? Besides us, there are bats under the loose bark and there’s a chickadee nest in that hollow limb. This place is hopping. Speaking of which, I’d better hop to it! Bye. (exits)
Bear Gosh, it’s like an apartment building. Hey, look at all this sawdust. Looks like some carpenters were here.
Carpenter Ant Queen You mean carpenter ants! My workers are digging out chambers and tunnels in the rotting wood of this tree.
Bear You mean you live in this snag, too?
Ant Why, yes! It’s not too wet, not too dry, the perfect nursery for my darling larvae.
Bear But won’t all your tunnels and chambers weaken the tree? Won’t it fall over?
Ant Oh, yes, someday. And when it lies on the ground for a while, it will become much too damp for carpenter ants like us.
Benjy Then you’ll move out and I can get rid of it.
Ant No, no! Other animals will move in. You’ll see. Now my crew’s here, and we’ve got work to do. You just leave this dead tree alone! (exits)
Bear Well, my clean-up-the-forest plans have run into a snag! I’ll have to put off my house cleaning again. I know! I’ll work on cleaning up some berries instead! (exits)
Narrator: That winter the winds blew (wind noises), the rain fell (spray water) the snow piled up (throw cotton balls). The tree began to sway (tree sways) until one day, it fell to the forest floor. (remove snag; replace with log)
Bear Well, lookee here. That old snag finally fell over. The forest looks much neater now. Oh, but look at the ground! Rotting logs everywhere. It’s a mess! Guess I’ll have to do that house cleaning after all.
Sally Salamander Tsk, tsk, Benjy Bear! You musn’t touch my nice log!
Bear Oh hi, Sally Salamander. You don’t live in this old rotten log, do you?
Salamander Why, of course I do. We red-backed salamanders love rotting logs! They’re nice and damp, and there are lots of tunnels for us to hide in and guard our eggs.
Bear Kind of a cozy log cabin, huh?
Salamander Oh yes, with a full pantry too – yummy spiders upstairs, crunchy pillbugs downstairs, and some juicy beetle grubs next door. I don’t have to go far to get a snack!
Bear Mmm, you’re making me hungry! You’ve got lots of company in that log.
Salamander Yes, but in a few years it’ll be too rotted and crumbly. Then the worms will move in. But for now it’s just right for us. You leave this log alone, Benjy! (exits)
Bear Gosh, this tree’s been dead for years, but it’s still full of life! Seems like dead trees are almost as important as living ones.
Sapsucker Hi, Benjy Bear. It’s me, Sappy Sucker.
Bear Hi, Sappy. Do you remember this log? You used to live in it back when it was a standing snag.
Sapsucker Wow! It was a tall tree back then and now it’s just a lying log.
Benjy And that’s no lie!
Sapsucker Gee, Benjy Bear, you’re some forest manager! Look at these woods. Rotting logs on the ground, standing snags in every corner. This place is a mess!
Bear Well I think it looks good! Those snags and logs are homes for lots of animals.
Sapsucker That’s just what I mean. It looks like a nice, healthy forest!
Bear Gosh, thanks. I never did get around that cleaning.
Sapsucker And that’s a good thing too – good for woodpeckers and bears and a lot of other forest critters! I’m glad you’re not trying to clean up the forest anymore.
Bear Nope, all this dead wood’s just pine with me!