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Winter Puzzle Holiday – Three

For my next puzzle, I decided to wok on the one my son and daughter-in-law gave me for Christmas—a view of the bridge I love, in the city I love, sitting in my favorite form of transportation. A triple winner!

Unlike my beer label puzzle, which had so many different colors it, was impossible to organize them into groupings, this puzzle had four main themes that made organization easy.

First there was the car with easily identifiable pieces. Second, there were pieces that included part of the bridge. Third, there were pieces of the beautifully colored sky. And fourth, there were land/sea pieces.

I grouped all of the car pieces together at the bottom of the work surface so they would be close by as I planned to assemble that first. The bridge pieces, I grouped at the top of my work surface close to where they would go. The sky and land/sea pieces I placed between the bridge and car groupings in relative proximity to where they would go. This left me with about 100 pieces that were not easily categorized and so I just left them in the box bottom.

Turned out assembling the car was more difficult than I anticipated. In spite of having almost all of the pieces in one location (some of the darker, less easily recognizable car pieces were hiding in the box), it presented a challenge, as many of the turquoise colored pieces were similar but shaded slightly differently. Even the gauges were arduous to complete and the steering wheel presented its own trials and tribulations. Adding to the confusion was the fact that the rear-view mirror had a reflection of the interior of the car, but in miniature. When I was down to about twenty pieces of the car left, it was a matter of trial and error using each remaining piece sequentially to complete the car.

But it was with a sense of satisfying accomplishment to gaze upon the finished car awaiting the rest of the scenery.

I next decided to focus on the beach, the ocean, and the foliage-filled mountains, as their completion would provide the stepping-stone to the building of the bridge. Because the foliage was colored differently between the lower parts of the mountain and the upper parts, this part of the puzzle was fairly easy. Even the water pieces were easygoing to complete. Now I was ready for the bridge.

I started with the roadbed, as those pieces were easily identifiable due their darker color and the two bridge towers were also a breeze to assemble. Next came the two massive cables that supported the roadbed. The last pieces to be installed were the suspender ropes (actually cables) hanging from the cables that attached to the roadbed.

With only three of the bridge suspender pieces still elusively hiding among the one hundred or so pieces left, the bridge was complete and all that remained was the sky.

The view of the sky on the box was beautifully colored with a near rainbow of yellows, oranges, blues, purples, pinks and some grey storm clouds thrown in for good measure. The clouds changed colors rapidly and so assembling them required organizing the pieces by shape and trial fitting each one successively until the right one agreeably snapped into place.

Inserting the last piece (the missing suspender one), it felt very satisfying to run my hands over the completed puzzle. I must say of all the puzzles I have worked on over the last coupe of years, I enjoyed this one the most. It was really fun to spend the time working on it and watching the completed image grow, an image as I said that captured many of the things I love and one that was going to be hard to take apart.

And so, I relocated it to our coffee table where I could continue to gaze on it as I worked on my next and last puzzle of the winter holiday.

This is the puzzle I had been looking forward to putting together ever since I bought it after my last puzzle binging during the winter of 2017. What better puzzle photo to bring an end to the winter’s cold weather than a puzzle of one of my favorite springtime places on Earth, Keukenhof Gardens, a gorgeous park just outside Amsterdam that I have visited many times.

But once I opened the box and began to lay out the pieces in an organized fashion like I have done so many times before, I was disappointed to learn that with the exception of the side pieces, every puzzle piece was exactly the same shape (zoom in on the photo and you will see what I mean). There were slight differences in size and shape between the external appendages and the openings on each piece but I knew it was a bad sign when I couldn’t even get all of the side pieces to fit together because several fit in more than one way.

I decided to begin with the foreground at the bottom of the puzzle with first the red and then the yellow tulips. After several hours’ work and a multitude of trial and error fittings, I managed to assemble a few of the red tulips. There were times that I thought this puzzle was going to defeat me and I was going to have to give up with the knowledge that next time, I needed to check out not just a puzzle’s image, but its brand as well (a brandname like MINDBOGGLERS should have been a clue).

Overnight and with rested eyes, I discovered that all of the individual tulips I had assembled the day before actually all interconnected with each other. This gave me confidence to continue with the yellow tulips. These proved even more challenging as with so many tulips, no single piece was recognizable as an individual flower. This required continual trial and error one piece at a time. But once completed, the other beds of flowers went fairly easily as they were smaller.

All that was left was the puzzle top, which was mostly tree trunks, branches, a few small flowers, and a bit of sky thrown in here and there. This part of the puzzle proved the most challenging, but reinforcements helped the assembly.

While talking with my wife, I mentioned the puzzle I was working on and asked if she would like to help put it together. This was something we had done together several years ago but lately I had done them on my own. In no time, she was adding pieces here and there. The process reminded me what a great puzzling team we made and I decided I would not do them alone again.

Thanks to my wife’s help, we completed what was for me, the most challenging puzzle ever, but also one of the most beautiful. Looking at the finished puzzle made me think of all the gorgeous photos I had taken at Keukenhof over the years. This got me thinking maybe I could get my own photo made into a 1,000-piece puzzle.

What a great idea for next year’s winter puzzle season!

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