Thursday, June 30, 2011


One thing I remember most about summer days as a kid is sitting around a table at a cottage somewhere doing jigsaw puzzles. To be honest, I recall having some of my best visits with my brother doing puzzles. I also had some great fun doing them with friends in university or by myself on a table outside of my tent at one of my remote dwellings out west. Puzzles have always been one of my favourite things to do.

Since I bought this farm I have done exactly zero puzzles (over 100 piece ones that is). Since I’ve had children, I’ve helped with many small puzzles with Disney characters, strawberry shortcake, dinosaurs, baby animals and other kid subjects. But never once have I tackled a puzzle for my own pleasure (pleasure outside of enjoying the time with my little ones, of course).

Lately I’ve found myself griping about all the work I have to do. You’ve had to put up with it too, haven’t you? Spring is a busy time. With summer here I had hoped for a lull but no such thing has occurred. We’re steady on folks! You’d think I could catch a good break over the winter months but truthfully we kept the train running full speed through the snow as well. I began milking my cow, making yogurt and cheese, I renovated the kids bedrooms and kitchen, and we were still delivering squash through snowstorms. I even fit in some training for a mountain adventure in March. Granted there was a lot less pressure in winter, but the ‘long winter’ months seemed to fly by without me this year.

So here I am. Summer is here. Officially it seems like July 1, Canada’s birthday, is a good day to ready-set-go your way into summer barbeques, lake swims, sleeping in tents, paddling in canoes, doing puzzles out on the deck… But wait a minute. When will I find time for any of this?

After getting mighty tired of listening to my brain chatter on and on about how overwhelmed it was, I did something quite surprising this week. I pulled out a puzzle. A beautiful work of art of 1000 pieces that includes a barn, a lazy, country road, and a landscape of fall colours. My daughter has taken to climbing up beside me on the dining room bench and doing the puzzle along with me. If I get her groups of pieces she’s surprisingly quick at figuring it. Then again, if she even got 1/8th of my genes she was bound to get some sort of puzzle-addicted personality.

I recall days of not moving from my spot, discovering piece after piece, hour after hour, often not eating much and not even taking breaks to stretch or go to the bathroom for 12 hours at a time. I would be fixed. If there was another person across the table from me, we might grunt a rare ‘good one’ at finding a hard piece but usually there was nothing but silence. My brother and I often joked about how we planned to do a puzzle and chat. Then silence. For hours. And we would look up every couple of hours and say: ‘yakety, yak’. That seemed enough to say.

Hey, I know this behaviour sounds a little obsessive/compulsive but really, don’t you think the world needs more silence? Don’t you think we could all use a little less television and a lot more sitting around, sharing activities with our loved ones? It might appear antisocial but really I think its just a marvelous way to take up each other’s space. Deep in thought, minding our own business, sharing a task.

This morning I did not partake in my usual habit of throwing breakfast dishes into the dishwasher and grabbing my coffee on my way out to the barn. I took my coffee over to the puzzle and sat for ten minutes imagining the day ahead. Putting together this little world one piece at a time seemed the only manageable thing I had going for me. So much order. So much sense. I suppose this is what many get out of knitting or other handiwork.

It is summer. It is time to do puzzles. Farm work or no farm work, I just can’t imagine another year without them. Those ten minutes might just buy me a day's worth of sanity.

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