By Victoria Gaither
When guests at the Trailside Inn in Killington return from a day of skiing, snowshoeing, or snowboarding, as well as a cozy fire, hot drink, or food, a jigsaw puzzle awaits them.
“Our place feels like it’s a huge house, so a lot of times people are hanging out in the great room, and the kids are just doing puzzles,” explained Joshua Eckler, the owner and innkeeper of the Trailside Inn.
Eckler said they have 30 to 40 puzzles they lay out for guests throughout the year, but one puzzle donated by a wedding couple’s parent, a Liberty puzzle, is unique.
Liberty puzzles are hand-cut wooden jigsaw puzzles inspired by the 1930s, with complex pieces, and shapes, usually shaped like plants, animals, or geometric designs.
They aren’t easy to finish, but that doesn’t stop his guests from trying to complete them.
In downtown Rutland at Wild Kind Toys, owner Logan Paluch sells wooden puzzles for the little ones. “We have a few wooden puzzles—the tray puzzles for the littlest ones and a really cool 26-piece wooden puzzle that has different space-themed objects that all fit together.”
Table and floor puzzles are popular on social media, with tens of thousands of fans and groups dedicated to showing off their skills. People from small to big love puzzles.
“I think there’s something about the combination of the challenge of figuring out where the pieces go, and then there’s a very clear sense of accomplishment when it’s completed,” Paluch said.
Paluch added for kids, “Puzzles are really great for a child’s development! They help strengthen fine motor skills and can certainly be a way to learn perseverance and problem-solving—but they need to be developmentally appropriate.”
Rutland resident Kimberly Adams said puzzles offer her and her wife, Nicole, a challenge and time to relax.
“I also am trying to spend less time on technology, and when I do a puzzle, I have no desire to look at my phone. I can shut out the stress of the world,” Adams said.
The couple prefers to do puzzles of 1,000 pieces and Adams said her favorite puzzles are New Yorker magazine cover puzzles which, feature different covers from the magazine. One particular puzzle has a special meaning to Adams.
“I got my wife a “New Yorker” puzzle that was a picture of two brides holding hands while walking down Brooklyn Bridge, and it is now framed on our wall,” said Adams.
Advice for first-time puzzlers: Joshua, a former engineer, likes to organize his pieces first before diving in; Kimberly says to start with the edges first, and Logan believes puzzles have a meditative component so you can go back to them for relaxation.
However you decide to tackle them, puzzles are meant to be fun.