We have four Liquidambar or Sweet-Gum trees that stand like sentinels at the front of our house. In early spring, they litter the lawn with their spiky fruit. Once when the boys were little and we had shed too many tears from stepping barefoot on their hard spikes, we considered taking the trees down. I know — awful, right!? Luckily, each year passed and we never removed those trees. They are huge now, and in summer they shade us from the valley heat and in winter, they lose their leaves to let the morning light tumble in through their bare branches. Our love for these trees has grown so strong that we have cabled the tallest of branches to secure them in heavy storms. This is my homage to those prickly fruit balls produced without fail each and every year. These little buggers prove that persistence pays because all I see now are sweet gum balls on my front lawn.