I had no idea that there were trees that would change color and drop their leaves in fall even in our climate. Granted, the colors aren't nearly as brilliant as they are in the Great Smoky Mountains of my youth, but there is something incredibly satisfying about a seasonal ritual like raking leaves (until I'm doing it for the third time... then I'm over it). It's one of those little things that makes me disproportionately happy.
American sweetgum tree (Wikipedia link)
Liquidambar styraciflua is a deciduous tree native to the warm temperate areas of eastern North America and regions of Mexico and Central America. A popular ornamental tree in temperate climates, it is recognizable by the combination of its five-pointed star-shaped leaves and its hard, spiked fruits (which you can apparently avoid by sterilizing the tree once a year... we're determined to do this as those spiky balls make the lawn underneath impossible to walk on with bare feet).