We always joke that if we could find a commercial value for them we could retire in style. In the mean time they will mock us, waiting until we rake up the first batch before bombarding us again and again. They do have the most amazing fall colors to make up for their misbehavior.
Looking up into this enormous sweet gum tree this morning I can see the thousands of spiky "gum balls" that will eventually fall to the ground to become a menace to walking and lawn mowing. This particular tree is in our neighbor's yard but wind, rain, and gravity will assure that many of the balls will make it into our yard plus we have our own tree in the front to add to the onslaught. These ping pong ball size pods have just done their annual release of seeds that fall like rain and tend to clog the drains for the sun roofs of our cars and the basement walk-out drain. Now they will dry out as they await their chance to become spiky assailants to foot traffic.