Blacktip Island residents home-quarantined due to positive COVID tests have banded together to do identical beer-label jigsaw puzzles in online group sessions. (photo courtesy of Wendy Beaufort)
Blacktip Island residents trapped in home quarantine this week created an online forum to simultaneously complete a communal jigsaw puzzle in real time, forum organizers said.
“There’s a shipload of Blacktippers testing positive for COVID, symptoms or no,” Kay Valve said. “We’re all stuck in our houses for two weeks, bored out of our minds and looking for something—anything—to do. Wendy Beaufort mentioned doing jigsaw puzzles, and the lightbulb went off. We may be isolated, but we can still do things together.
“Peachy at the store had a stack of identical ‘beers of the world’ jigsaw puzzles she got shipped by mistake, so she donated one to each person who’s been quarantined,” Valve said. “It’s been a sanity saver. And what’s more appropriate on Blacktip than a beer puzzle? We can all sort out puzzle pieces while we drink beer. What else are we going to do?”
Group members praised the sense of connectivity puzzling brings.
“We were all going bug-nutty trapped alone at home,” Jack Wrasse said. “The group started with Kay and Wendy on a Facetime call, then, when they realized how many people were quarantined, Kay created a Zoom room where we could all work on the same puzzle at the same time. Mentally, that’s huge.
“It’s not the same as being together in person, but at least there’s interaction,” Cobia said. “It creates a sense of community while we’re all stuck inside.”
Some noted a competitive turn to the puzzle solving.
“It started as a social thing, sure, but cooped-up folks can get belligerent,” Gage Hoase said. “Especially with their nerves on edge thinking they might have The Vid. Started with Sally Port and Lee helm racing to see who could put together the Heineken label first. Next thing we knew there were six, seven people all trying to get it first.
“We had to end the call once obscenities started flying in four different languages,” Hoase said. “There’s still puzzlers in the group who won’t talk to each other. And Lee’s set a real Heineken bottle on his puzzle table, just to rub it in.”
Others praised the competition.
“It lifts peoples’ spirits, the arguing and the oneupsmanship,” Stoney MacAdam said. “There’s no real violence or hard feelings, just a bunch of jawing. So far. And there’s usually multiple beers on the line for each puzzle piece, so it gets pretty heated.”
Island authorities encouraged the sessions.
“It keeps people occupied and in their homes, when, before, they might have been tempted to break quarantine,” public-health nurse Marissa Graysby said. “Also, when they’re in the Zoom room, I know right where they are. Anybody goes missing, I call the constable straight away.
“The big worry now is Peachy’s store’ll run out of beer,” Graysby said. “Beer consumption’s gone up 15, 20 percent in the last week, and if folks run out of beer, they’re likely to go roaming the island looking for more and start an uncontrolled virus outbreak.”