Thursday, April 3, 2008

is a puzzle-ment

On Saturday we decided to take a drive south on Rt. 43. We stopped at Helen's Kitchen in Hartville for lunch, then headed further south to the aptly named "Rt. 43 Antique Mall". We don't go there very often because there really isn't much of a turnover in merchandise, but I find that what we see there changes from time to time. I guess we look with different eyes.

A couple of years ago, Ben found an old plastic glow-in-the-dark Christmas tree ornament like the ones he remembers from his childhood. Over the years I have often seen Brownie box cameras like the one we had when I was a kid, but when we were there last fall, I found a complete set still in the box, like the one that sat on our bay window seat for so many years. It was hard for me to leave it behind.

This time it was old jigsaw puzzles that caught my eye. I mean really old. I would guess from the 1940's. I was mesmerized by them. I have always loved working jigsaw puzzles. I can well remember two puzzles from my earliest childhood. Each puzzle probably had about ten thin, cardboard pieces. One was a baby carriage in pastel colors that didn't really hold my interest - it didn't even have a baby in it. The other one, however, utterly fascinated me. It was a fishbowl with two orange goldfish in it. There was a gray castle with a wavy green piece of seaweed next to it. I worked that puzzle hundreds of times. I knew how it tasted. (Although I had to be careful not to warp the pieces when I licked them.)

I can also remember a couple of Zorro puzzles, based on the T.V. series, and I know that we got a Sleeping Beauty puzzle not long after the Disney movie came out. My brothers were never the avid puzzle workers that I was, and often wanted to help after the hard work of sorting out the border pieces was done. I didn't like that.

I was still a child when I was allowed to work some of the easier puzzles my parents had. (I hesitate to say "adult puzzles.") I loved the one with the blooming trees and the duck pond in the foreground, and the winter scene in shades of blue, with children skating on a frozen pond. I liked interlocking puzzles best - I still do - but I also loved the oldest puzzle with the thick, thick pieces that didn't interlock at all. It was an old Tuco puzzle; an old farmhouse with a garish purple and orange sunset in the background. It is in my attic now, along with dozens of others.

I think jigsaw puzzles contributed to my life-long love of art. Most of the puzzles we had were based on paintings, some of them well-known. I pored over their vivid colors and visible brush strokes. I remember particularly a Dutch windmill and a Utrillo street scene. Later we had a Norman Rockwell, a Klimt garden, and American Gothic by Grant Wood. Those are all in the attic, as well. Julie and I bought a jigsaw puzzle just this past Christmas season. It is a painting of skaters on the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center, with the huge Christmas tree in front of the towering skyscraper.

Of course I bought a couple of old puzzles on Saturday. I haven't worked them yet, and there is always the danger that one - or more - of the pieces will be missing from an opened puzzle box, but it seemed worth the risk. Maybe I'll spread one out on the card table tonight and start sorting out the border pieces. There are worse ways to spend an evening at home.

No comments: