Rick and I took our walk a bit later than usual on Saturday past and the moon, if not truly full, was certainly full enough to brighten the night with its luminescence. The fields were bright as day, the trees cast long shadows, and where ice lay on the roads, it gleamed diamond bright. The sky was not full of stars just yet, but there were enough. A planet may have been among them, and though I’ve not consulted my nighttime sky-watching book of late, it had that reddish hue. A plane cruised high above, blinking — or maybe it was a flying saucer. In any case, it was lovely. Bitterly cold enough to make me wonder at the sense of taking the night air when the night air is terrifically frigid, and I had this case of déjà vu.

I am no stranger to night walks, frigid or otherwise. A few years ago, a friend and I would set out ‘neath the moonlit sky without flashlight or any other means of manmade illumination. Bundled against the cold, our ears attuned to the groaning complaints of trees or the far-off call of coyote or wolf, we stayed on the roadway, a shiny ribbon laid out before us. Our eyes were often on the skies – the big dipper, the little dipper, Orion’s belt — and we talked of all manner of things, including how our ancestors used the stars to navigate, and wasn’t that an awesome thing to contemplate on a 21st-century January night? So I thought my mind was wandering back to other moonlit walks in other times, but yet there was this nagging feeling that it was something else. Something more recent. As we headed homeward, I gazed up at the moon surrounded not by the rainbow of “dogs” but by a golden light gradually giving way to purple — and it hit me. The puzzle. The jigsaw puzzle on the card table at home.

Jigsaw puzzles are a hobby. Usually a winter hobby, but sometimes at other times, too. On Christmas of 2019 Santa blessed us all — the “kids,” the grandkids, Rick, and me — with jigsaw puzzles featuring wintry views. They range in piece numbers from 500-1000, but each of the adults have a 1000-piecer. Mine is a house. Not just any house, but a house with multiple windows with multiple panes of glass — seven lit ones in the downstairs, and three unlit upstairs. You can see through the lit windows to the walls inside (thank goodness, or I’d never have gotten as far as I have in putting the thing together) to see a mounted deer head and pictures, plus candles on one of the windowsills. All those tiny panes with the same color light behind them had been driving me nuts. There is quite a lot of detail in total, including a fully decorated tree inside the house, and another outside. There are two kids building a snowman to the right, a boy in green snow gear and a girl in red. There is another kid in front of the house, also wearing a green snowsuit, pulling a sled with two puppies on a green blanket. There is a dog with its tongue hanging out near the snowman builders, and another on the front steps of the house. An American flag hangs near the front door. The shrubbery, the eaves and a large tree near the snowman all have multi-colored lights (oi). There are trees next to and behind the house, and everywhere is snow — white, pink, purple depending on if it lies in brightness or in shadow — because in the sky, as you may have guessed by now, is a full moon blazing golden in a purpling sky.

Not sure if jigsaw puzzles classify as “art.” Oftentimes we may wonder if life is imitating art, or if it’s the other way around. I prefer to think that art, including jigsaw puzzle art, imitates life. The puzzle is interesting (I’m working on snow now, double oi), and the moon over the treetops is lovely indeed, but it can’t really come close to the real deal (déjà vu not withstanding). Guess that tells me I’ll continue to risk frostbite venturing out into the darkness to see the moon hanging amid tree branches, or blazing full-on where there’s a wider-angle view.

Hey! I think I just found a dog’s foot. Now to discover which of the four dogs it belongs to. It’s all so puzzling, isn’t it?

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