I love jigsaw puzzles. I don’t remember when or where my fascination with puzzles started but I’ve been hooked for a long time. I always buy puzzles that are big, over five hundred pieces, with lots of color and movement. I like bright and bold. I don’t usually go for landscapes, but once in a while I find something that moves me and that will be my choice. The usual place for my puzzles was the dining room table. For over twenty years I had a table that was long enough for me to dump the box and turn the pieces over, sometimes taking two evenings just to make sure everything was facing up. I always threw the box in the corner at the beginning, but somehow it always migrated back to a chair tucked under the table, hidden but handy. I loved looking at the patterns, the variations in color and the shapes of the pieces. There was satisfaction in finding the first pieces that fit together, and in placing the final piece that revealed the total picture. Usually I confined my puzzles to the winter when dark came early and the children settled in with books or TV instead of running outside. I found a quiet magic in my puzzles.
I would sit at the table after dinner and gaze at the pieces. I would pick up a piece and turn it, consider it and its place in the whole. The magic came when one of the small bodies would slip into the room. Sometimes I’d hear, “Whatcha’ doing Mama?” Sometimes I’d just hear feet kicking against a chair leg. And sometimes, if I was lucky, magic happened and words would flow from whichever child had been drawn in. The words were quiet, they were slow, they came from calm and peace. They were not profound words nor words that remained for long, but they were words that connected us like the pieces of the puzzle. I never asked them to help me put the puzzles together, but somehow they always did. We talked about silly things like how the pieces looked like ducks and I heard dreams about visiting places across the world, and why they didn’t like the milk in the cafeteria. Some evenings it was one child who joined me, some evenings it was both, and on really rare occasions I’d find the two of them together working quietly, talking to one another. If we finished one puzzle, I’d buy another. We kept a puzzle on the table.
I didn’t have a puzzle this year. The kids are grown and off doing what they are suppose to be doing and I made do this winter with puzzles on my computer. I have to say that even though the pictures are beautiful and there is challenge in the shapes and patterns, there is no magic, and I miss the magic.