Love ’em or loathe ’em, puzzles and puzzling have a particular niche in people’s minds. We usually try to have a large puzzle ready or even on the go for family Christmases. I’d guess we split fairly evenly between those who become fascinated by the search-and-see approach and those who are only faintly bemused by the slowly revealed image.
This year it was a tiger’s turn, a present from a dear friend who has extended family and knows about the joys of time lost, time shared, in concentration. In another year we did one of a hundred or so mushrooms. You begin to appreciate how an image might be chosen for its capacity to enthral and frustrate in equal measure. This tiger now, it was fiendish but fun!
One of the things about puzzles of 1000 pieces or more is the question of the missing piece. I’ve spent too much time looking for a specific piece over and over through all the colour-sorted array, only to discover the piece I’m searching for on the floor! So when we had finished the tiger, exclaiming in delight over its idiosyncrasies, our perseverance, and the total absence of any missing pieces as the last one was put in and tapped for good luck, we puzzler participants, we put it carefully back into its box and started on another one: the grey stone city of Edinburgh in faux-3D, with streets, attraction names, green trees and parks. But by this time, the kitchen table was no longer suitable as it was needed for other purposes, like eating.
I found a solution to a puzzle problem that has long bedevilled families: how to deal with a semi-finished puzzle when the flat space is needed for something else. This carrying case, designed for 1000 piece puzzles, is really very clever:
The City of Edinburgh was proving more challenging than we had thought; it wasn’t even a third complete before it was time to say goodbye to far-flung family. So we wrapped the project up in the new handy carry-case and it made the trip back to Edinburgh.
I think it was nearly a month later when the wail came through WhatsApp: there’s a piece missing! The puzzle was finally finished, but what a sinking feeling in the puzzlers’ stomachs. I wondered if somehow that piece had been misplaced here before it was wrapped for travel. The visiting kitties had definitely been having fun with the scattered pieces. On hands and knees, I searched the floor that I’d hoovered, with our new Dyson Animal-2, over several weekend chore stints already. I didn’t see how it was possible I’d missed it, or, worse thought, that it had been scarfed up by the vacuum and was now in a land-fill somewhere, not until I turned out an overlapping carpet edge and found a puzzle piece insinuated into the gap. Ah ha!
Word filtered back from the city that the piece had arrived, though by that time the City of Edinburgh had been returned to its box. So the complete puzzle has never actually been seen in its entire whole, even yet.
That will have to be a joy to anticipate at another family gathering, then.