These Puzzling Times

These Puzzling Times

By Karen Key 

During these times of self-isolation, with children out of school for months on end, I’ve found myself struggling to find enriching, educational activities that keep my second grader, Violet, occupied at home. 

She misses her regular routine, her teachers and her friends—and, as time goes on, it only gets harder to suggest the same few activities again and again. With the beautiful weather we’ve had, it’s been difficult, too, to explain why (up until recently) we couldn’t just pack up a picnic and head into to the Smokies for the day.

To keep us busy, with our brains still functioning, I turned to GSMA’s online store for products that remind us of the beautiful natural world beyond our front door. For our indoor-outdoor adventure, we chose two puzzles: the Carter Shields Cabin puzzle, a 500-piece puzzle depicting a lovely autumn Cades Cove scene, and the I Am Owl puzzle, a poster-sized 550-piece jigsaw of our iconic nocturnal Smokies friend.

In short bursts of energy, Violet and I completed the first puzzle piece-by-piece—and, in the process, she learned about the park while experiencing the joy that comes from finding a perfect-fitting piece. She helped me finish Carter Shields Cabin, and we took some photos of the result. But, in the end, her favorite part was tearing the completed puzzle to shreds—its pieces, once neatly fitted together, flying through the air, across the table and scattered to the floor in a chaotic frenzy of overzealous destruction.

With all the uncertainties this pandemic brings, I can’t say I blame her. We all have a little pent-up anger and anxiety right now, and, for Violet, I think this small, harmless act of mayhem provided some much-needed catharsis. Next time, when we dig into the I Am Owl puzzle, I might just save the end for myself!

The Carter Shields Cabin puzzle is no longer in stock, but there are plenty of others to choose from!

Related Posts
  1. The Strange Case of Cades Lake The Strange Case of Cades Lake Depending on who you were and what you stood for, the idea of turning most of Cades Cove into a 50-foot-deep lake—three miles long and two miles wide—was either brilliant or terrible. Pro-lake constituents included National Park Service
  2. Looking towards tomorrow: memories of a holiday hike in the Smokies by Elizabeth Giddens Looking towards tomorrow: memories of a holiday hike in the Smokies by Elizabeth Giddens When I was in grad school at the University of Tennessee in the 1980s, I usually came back to Knoxville from the Christmas break before New Year’s. Doing so gave me a week to get ready for the next quarter at school, plan for classes I would be
  3. Cades Cove Story re-released by GSMA Cades Cove Story re-released by GSMA “No story of Cades Cove can ever be complete…” These humble words written by A. Randolph Shields in 1977 comprise the first line of The Cades Cove Story. The enduring legacy of this work continues to connect readers to the lives of
  4. Family Heirlooms Come Back to the Smokies Family Heirlooms Come Back to the Smokies Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently received a priceless donation of Cades Cove artifacts to the museum collections. The great-granddaughter of Dan and Sidney Lawson, Robin Derryberry of Chattanooga, TN, donated a chest of drawers, family Bi