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Lynna Clark column: Not too far from anywhere

By Lynna Clark
For the Salisbury Post

My beautiful puzzle came from the Our State magazine store. Five hundred and fifty pieces of pure bliss awaited my attention. According to the front of the box, each area of the Old North State is represented. I could hardly wait to get started. Besides, the internet and cable were down; rain pounded the metal awning, and two of my eight-year-old grandchildren had just arrived. All things indicated a great day to stay inside and assemble a masterpiece.

Marie emptied all the pieces carefully onto the dining table. Wow. Five hundred and fifty pieces make a pretty large pile! Jesse propped the box up for easy reference. Their mom asked where they’d like to live on the map. Since their family had recently visited Cape Lookout, Marie pointed to the horses. “I want to live there with the wild ponies!” That was no surprise as the child loves animals so much that we’ve dubbed her Ellie Mae. Jesse however pointed to the mountains. Apparently bears in the wild are quite inviting to a boy who loves the outdoors. Their family hikes the mountain trails often especially if it means wading through an ice-cold stream on a warm day.

“Where would you like to live, Grammy?” They peered at me with wonder as if saying it out loud would make it happen. I pointed to the Cheerwine bottle right smack dab in the middle. “I want to live right here, in Salisbury.”

“But you already live in Salisbury!” They reminded me as though I’d forgotten.

“Yep. And there is no place I’d rather be. But I can always visit if you decide to live near the beach or in the mountains. That’s another good thing about living in Salisbury. It’s not too far from anywhere.”

They nodded as they considered their life choices then began sorting the puzzle pieces by color. It’s been years since I worked a big puzzle. Suddenly I felt a bit overwhelmed. When I was a kid, the sensible thing to do was to gather all the straight sides, form the outer frame, then fill in from there. The kids however chose their favorite pictures on the map and began finding the pieces they needed. My phone buzzed and I’m glad I checked. The cable guy was on his way. Of course I needed to change into my “greet the cable dude” clothes since my everyday attire has devolved into whatever I happen to have slept in. The backdoor opened and thankfully it was the grandkids’ mother returning from her errand. Like a quick change artist I jumped into my clothes in time to greet the cable guy. Next came David home from work to instruct the repairman. The kids never looked up. I sat down again trying to gather my thoughts. A small pile of green straight edges greeted me. Surely I could make the bottom border. Glancing at the progress of the kids I found that Jesse had completed not only the bear but also Chimney Rock, the waterfall, the Christmas tree lot and a jug of moonshine. “Save all the red for me. I’m putting together the cardinal,” he instructed. Marie had the wild horses and several lighthouses finished. Quickly, she worked her way down the coast. She gazed at me with sympathy. “Here, Grammy. Try these pieces.” Sweetly, she handed me two pieces that seemed to have no rhyme or reason. I couldn’t get them to fit.

“Switch them around like this.” Her tiny fingers showed me how. Eventually I got it to work. She held her hand up for a high-five. “You did it! Now here are two more. You can do it, Grammy.” Her sweet encouragement made me laugh. Apparently the brain fog from chemo a few years back is still in effect. At least that’s the story I’m sticking with. Absentmindedly, I attached my little section to Jesse’s part where he’d not only finished the cardinal but had started the state flower. “Yay Grammy! Good job!” He too high-fived me before resuming his search for dogwood leaves.

Eventually the cable was repaired, the internet was restored and the rain stopped. But no one seemed to notice. We were too busy finishing the Moravian star and the Cheerwine bottle.

Home sweet Salisbury! Don’t I love it?! It’s really not too far from anywhere!

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