Constructor's CommentsMajor Spoiler Alert: The main challenge here was working without circled letters—per the Puzzle Society's software. My original puzzle circled six trees: FIR, OAK, RUBBER, ELM, SPRUCE, and TEA. So I thought that without the circles the puzzle was fairly hard to solve. The next challenge was to find the "mini-meta" suggested by MYOPIC at 68-Across. Simply enough, it's the first letter of each tree—FOREST—but "hard to see" for all trees.
I loved making this puzzle. But it happened so many months ago that I'd forgotten what the trick was and had to be rescued by my wife, Carla: "You've got FOREST buried in there," and, of course, my only response was a facepalm. How could I have been so myopic?