All Gaul...

...is divided into how many parts?

I always have to look these things up.  It's exasperating, vexing, and occasionally chafing that I can't remember from year to year.  gall2 v. 3. 

Galls are bizarre and common occurrences in the natural world.  gall3 n.  An abnormal swelling of plant tissue caused by insects, microorganisms, or external injury.

This Oak Gall was bigger than a ping pong ball, and still intact.

It was ninety-three degrees, but I needed a stress reduction walk at Oak Point Nature Preserve.  My dad's Guide to Nature in Winter, by Donald W. Stokes, has thirteen pages devoted to galls:

The closest we can come to explaining gall formation is to say that the insect disrupts the normal growth of a plant either through physical irritation or chemical secretion.  Around the insect, the plant grows a deformity, which the insect then uses for food and protection while developing.

Stokes says about 1500 types of gall-makers are known on this continent, and over half are on oaks.  Most oak galls are formed by wasps.  The galls in my photos seem to be Oak Apple Galls.  I avoid wasps whenever and wherever possible!  They do not play well with others.

This gall on a sapling just down the trail was hollow.  The galls were a tricky usage trail to follow:

  • He had the gall to...  impudence He had the gall to say he was my friend after being so rude to me.

  • It galls me to think...  to annoy (a person) very much It galls me to think that he is earning so much money. 

  • Gallbladder n. Also gall bladder.  A small, pear-shaped, muscular sac located under the right lobe of the liver, in which bile secreted by the liver is stored.

  • Gaul, though, is divided into three parts according to Caesar.  Julius was quite the propagandist/spin doctor.  [De Bello Gallico bk. 1, sect. 1]:

Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres.

Why is yellow the color of bile?   

In the medical theories prevalent in the West from Classical Antiquity up to the Middle Ages, the body's health depended on the equilibrium between four "humors" or vital fluids: bloodphlegm, "yellow bile" (or ichor) and "black bile". Excesses of the last two humors were supposed to produce aggression and depression, respectively; and the Greek names for them gave rise to the English words "cholera" and "melancholia". Those same theories explain the derivation of the English word "bilious" from "bile", and the meaning of "gall" in English as "exasperation" or "impudence".

And what was the deal about crossing the Rubicon?

  • Kenny Roger's song, "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town" has always given me acid reflux.  The You Tube is worth watching just for the 1972 white patent go-go boots and tambourine.
  • The Rolling Stones' Ruby Tuesday was one of the first songs I heard on KLMS radio after Santa Claus brought me a transistor radio and ear phone in December of 1966.  

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

You know how when you learn a word, you see it everywhere? A couple years ago, when I learned about galls, I saw them everywhere!


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