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The glass teetered for a moment, then-splash!-dumped eight ounces of seltzer smack in the middle of our jigsaw puzzle. We frantically dabbed at the pieces with paper towels, until we discovered that rubbed the image off the top. We settled on triage consisting of isolating the wet pieces on paper towel blotters, and hoped for the best.
Even pre-deluge, this puzzle was a challenge. Or not exactly the puzzle itself, but the methodology. I prefer to sort the outline pieces, assemble those first, and only then start on the middle. I’d started that process, put when I got home from work, all was in disarray, the top nearly assembled but outline pieces scattered everywhere.
The outrage! I felt as P. G Wodehouse’s Earl of Emsworth must have about his gardener: “the moment his back was turned, his own sound, statesman-like policies were shelved and some sort of sweet pea New Deal put into practice as though he had never spoken a word.” Now we had chaos AND a wet puzzle. Too much doubt and ambiguity for me! While John picked away at the puzzle, I retreated upstairs with Wodehouse and a glass of superb Savennieres.
Lord Emsworth and Others, and specifically the story ‘The Crime Wave at Blandings’, is certainly some of the funniest, wittiest fiction ever written. It you’re looking for summer reading, I’d recommend it highly. Later, I moved on to Eric Asimov’s How to Love Wine. Asimov, wine critic for the New York Times, writes about the dichotomy between our society’s fear of wine and wine-speak, and our desire to enjoy the beverage.
So far, my favorite chapter is on The Ambiguity of Wine. The idea of certainty, that one wine is undeniably and always ‘great’ and another ‘not’, or that any wine can be defined by a two digit score, is utterly counter to his experience of wine. (Mine, too) Asimov writes, ” Most people assume the opposite of certainty is indecision. Nothing could be further from the truth. Doubt is the opposite of certainty.” He speaks of Galileo arriving at truth through doubt and questioning, and the “fragile ambiguity, the tension and polarity that is at the heart of a great wine.”
For me, the act of loving wine embraces that ambiguity. Wine is ever-changing, elusive, ethereal, cryptic. Fascinating. Confounding. Never completely knowable. The ambiguity is part and parcel of its charm.
I just don’t care for it in puzzles.