Rainy day. I’m not in the mood to go for a bike ride. I have the requisite gear, a poncho I can throw on that has room to bike beneath, like the ones I was first introduced to in Shanghai in 1993. Something about the overcast atmosphere steers me back inside and over to the table. Today, I figure, we’ll start our new puzzle, the Tang Dynasty fresco of young Tang court ladies. And before the girls are up, I’ve already got the parameter connected.
Meditative, doing a puzzle you sift through pieces and automatically begin to consider pieces according to color. This puzzle as I’d noted a few days back is one of those which come printed with letters on the back. This is a significant short cut and though you can try to ignore it, you start by necessarily organizing the letters into different piles and looking over the backs to confirm that any suspicious joins are in the right place. But the real breakthrough occurs when it becomes clear that you no longer need to rotate the pieces around to consider multiple connection possibilities. You can line all the A’s and the C’s up in the direction of the type on the back and know precisely how each should be placed. And all the while you debate to yourself, that this is cheating, surely, but at the same time it would be folly to pretend what is available somehow isn’t.
Once you’ve surrendered to the whatever methodology you’ve determined is “fair” you can get lost inside the rhythm of sampling through all the possibilities from your pile of pieces. I’ve decided to get lost in the turquoise hem of some princess' long gown in the middle section. And, noting the back where there are letters that contain both C and in this case D or F, you can begin to construct the mini square of activity that will be your focus.
Time is oddly suspended and it’s a good thing this is a weekend morning. Slowly a vertical line takes definition. That patch to the right can’t be as dark as you imagine it. There are no more dark pieces for you to make use of. Somewhere along the line you have about half the pieces there in place and you invariably decide that it is somehow important now for you to finish off the square you’ve set out on. Some three hours after you sat down for this momentary diversion I stand and shake off the stiffness in my body, sore for having knelt there on the floor, for so long.