Monday, March 15, 2010


This jigsaw puzzle is over 25 years old. It is my favorite because it is of the Pacific coast and reminds of the beach in California. There was one particular beach which I liked the best in San Diego which was called the Silver Strand. It was never crowded (unlike most California beaches) because they charged an admission fee for the beach and most people preferred to go to the free beaches rather than pay the admission fee. The sparse numbers of people made it very pleasant to go there. No crowding. No loud din of noise from a large mass of people. No litter. But most of all the quietness. Just the sound of the pounding surf as it crashed on the shore and the waves as they rushed up onto the sand. I reveled in walking very close to where the waves forward rush would end as if teasing the ocean to try and get my feet wet when I was walking along just barely out of its reach. But sometimes I would get too complacent about the water and there would come along one of those one-in-ten waves that was larger than the others and it would come up further onto shore and get my feet wet when I wasn’t looking. I guess in the long run of things, the ocean would have the last laugh as I felt the chill of the cold Pacific water on my feet. I enjoyed walking along the shore in the daytime but I liked it even more at night. Without the daytime distractions, the roar and pounding of the surf seemed even louder. And sometimes at night there would be the grunions, little fish that would wash up with the waves, wiggle down in the wet sand to lay their eggs, and then wiggle back out to sea. It was an amazing site to see hundreds and hundreds of these grunions at the same time with the top half of their bodies sticking straight up out of the sand. But then I moved to Florida and I missed the pounding of the waves as they crashed on-shore. And so I found this puzzle which reminded me of the California beaches. And so I would sit in the living room in Miami putting the puzzle together on a card table while remembering the pleasant times in Southern California, where it never rains just like in the song. It would take me several evenings to complete the puzzle. Once I had completed the puzzle, I would take a long look at it and then break up the pieces and put them back into the box. Every so often I would get out the puzzle and assemble it once again, take a long look, and then put it back into the box. I would make a conservative estimate that over the last 25 years that I have put the puzzle together at least a dozen times. I got to where I didn’t have to look at the picture on the box because I remembered the picture in detail what it looked like from having done the puzzle so many times. The amazing thing is that I never got bored doing the same puzzle again and again and also, I never lost a piece of the puzzle. It is still complete. I recently did it one more time. But this time I took pictures of the completed puzzle in addition to taking a long before breaking it up for the last time and putting it back into the box. The pieces of the puzzle have become too worn over time and they no longer have a tight fit. This results in pieces seemingly to fit in a spot where they really don’t belong which caused me difficulty in putting it together. I asked Mary to take the puzzle to the thrift store which she did along with some other items for donation. Hopefully someone else will have the pleasure of putting the puzzle together as I always have. But in a way it was sad for me to give up that old puzzle. I know that it sounds silly but it had become like an old friend to me. Whenever I got bored, I would just get out the box and put the puzzle together. Over the years I have spent countless hours with that puzzle and I derived a lot of quiet contemplative pleasure from it. The puzzle had become like the Old Barn in the poem of the same name. My only consolation is that it didn’t go into the trash can but is getting recycled at the thrift store so it still lives and has purpose. And that is my story for today. Here’s hoping that sometime today you will see something amazing that will make you say ‘Wow, that is neat’. And so, Villager go forth and have a “Wow!” day on this your special day. Happy Birthday! Lew

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