When I was a kid, there was a sweet gum tree out in front of my house, planted around the time I was born. The kind that sheds those little prickly seed capsules. The fresh, heavy green ones hurt when they hit you in the back of the head, and the dried brown ones really hurt when you step on them in bare feet.
Some of the more colorful names for these spikey things include gum balls, space bugs, monkey balls, bommyknockers and sticker balls. Even though they can live to be 400 years old, some cities have vowed to destroy the trees, citing them as nuisances.
But I loved my tree. I learned to walk under it, and to ride a bike, and I sat in its shade on hot summer days. When I looked out of my bedroom window as … Read More »