Sunday, January 1, 2017

Puzzle hiatus

           A few weeks ago I wrote about the glory and greatness that is passing time with a good jigsaw puzzle. I was so tickled to receive notes from readers, telling me their puzzle memories and other stories. Someone even requested a local puzzle exchange, which sounds like a lovely idea and I wish I had the time and resources to make it happen for her.
            But last puzzle might have done me in. Sure, it was a tad more difficult that than others we have done. Sure, the magic has worn off a bit for the family and I was the only one to work on the puzzle. In actuality, however, it was eastern Minnesota that put me on my temporary puzzle hiatus.
            A detailed 1,000-piece map of the United States National Park system, there could not be a puzzle that I could love more. It took forever to complete because every time I placed a piece that contained a park or historic site I didn’t know anything about, I turned to my smart phone at my side to learn something. (Delaware has no National Parks, but does have a National Historic Site. Our nearest National Park, Cuyahoga Valley, is the 11th most visited park in the entire US. Take that, exciting western mountain ranges!)
            I drank a lot of tea trying to complete that puzzle, but honestly enjoyed most every second of it…until I started filling in the northern pieces towards the end, those last few stragglers with nothing distinctive that force you to disregard the picture and just pray that the shapes can line up.
            When I knew I held eastern Montana in my hand, I stood up, bent over, and placed the piece right where it should be.
            SNAP went the piece!
            SNAP went some muscle in my lower back!
            Not a stranger to doing something stupid that puts me out of commission (I once spent two weeks hunched over because I carried a clothes basket up the stairs incorrectly), I had just done to myself one of the most pathetic injuries of my life.
            “How’d you hurt yourself?” someone might ask.
            “Puzzle accident. Bent over to complete Montana.”
            I would have to come up with a better story, I thought. Or at least one that didn’t make me sound pitiful and weak. As someone who has is regarded as a fit person, I simply couldn’t walk around telling people I got hurt with by a 1,000 piece jigsaw.
            But as life goes, there’s often no better humor that honesty, and if we can’t laugh at ourselves, we don’t deserve the goodness that is laughter at all.
            So bear with me as I walk around stiffly, smelling of muscle rub, and cursing a wonderful pastime. And perhaps instead of condolences, I’ll accept new puzzles that I will complete as soon as this tweaked back heals up as clear as the lands in eastern Montana.

Originally written 1.24.16


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