In the back yard of 310 S. Taft Ave. (where I grew up) towers of giant sweet gum tree.
My father cursed that tree. We all cursed that tree! Not really the tree itself, but the consequences of the tree: GUM BALLS!
Thousands of them every year.
Every Spring would bring the "ping" of gum balls off the aluminum siding of our house as they shot out of the lawn mower. "You have to rake the gum balls up FIRST, before you use the lawn mower," my mom and dad would yell at me while ducking another pointy projectile.
Of course, my brothers, sister and I tried everything to get out of raking the sharp, pointy spheres from hell; we never succeeded in getting out of it.
After we kids moved out, my mother and father planned to sell the house and built a new one. The first thing I noticed as I surveyed the building site was...
"Dad, isn't that a sweet gum tree in the back of the lot?"
I suppose that my father could have cut the monster down before they ever moved in; my father, for some unexplainable reason, kept it. Oh well, his problem.
It wasn't until my father became sick that I got to re-experience the wrath of gum balls.
Now, I come over to cut his grass and rake up my archenemy. It has been while fighting the good life that I keep believing that the Universe is trying to teach me some zen lessons such as gratitude, tolerance, accepting, patience, balance...
I'll continue to work on that.
In the meantime, I'll close with the following Sweet Gum Ball Serenity Prayer:
Lord, grant me the patience to accept the gum balls in my life, the courage to rake them up, and the wisdom to never buy or build a house with a sweet gum tree!
Sir Bowie "when life gives you gum balls, make?" of Greenbriar