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Name the trees that stood in the neighbourhood where you grew up.

From the age of seven to seventeen I lived on Cape Breton Island in the Town of Sydney. My parents bought the property in 1977 and as the story goes my father spent five minutes inside the house and two hours outside, walking the property. And it was spectacular. We had just over an acre of river front, with a dense forest on two sides and one lonely neighbour on the fourth side. The dense forest belonged to the Crown so we never had to fear the developer’s bulldozer. For me and the kids in my neighbourhood that forest was magic.

The trees were old; huge, gnarled things that creaked and swayed with the wind. The spruce and fir trees offered dry escapes from the almost constant rain. The birch trees constantly shed their brittle bark, perfect for making miniature canoes. We imagined the treehouses our fathers never had the time to build in the thick stands of beech and elm. And my favorite: the maple tree, with its garnet leaves that spread over the ground in late fall and cushioned our small feet as we ran. Now, so many years later, living on the brown prairie in Alberta, I miss maple trees the most. A fall without those red leaves just doesn’t seem complete.

Next week: Write a scene in which a woman is fired after only a week on the job. Just a week earlier, the same person who is now firing her was very persuasive in convincing her to take the job.