The Puzzled Settlers

I found myself at Indigo Bookstore a few days after Christmas, contemplating how to spend a gift card I’d been given. Books, magazines, decorative pillows – they all held appeal, but in the end I opted for a few family friendly gifts instead.

Namely, Settlers of Catan and a Red-Eyed Tree Frog Puzzle.

[Now, whenever I notice the difference between American and Canadian prices, I’m reminded of a conversation between the Gort and the Hen a few days before Christmas. They were talking about the difference in prices on the back of books. ‘Things cost less in the U.S. because they have a nicer government,’ the Gort explained to his five year old brother. It should also be noted that even with a ‘nicer’ government, the Gort is staunchly opposed to living in the U.S. ‘because it’s not safe…….they have tornadoes.’]

But this was supposed to be about frogs and a board game.

A few hours after we returned from the store, the professor and I sat down with the Gort and – after some lengthy explanation – played our first family game of ‘Settlers’; a game I’ve played a handful of times without mastery or victory.

Nearly two hours later the game was [finally] over and the professor had won [a harbinger of things to come]. ‘Can we play another one?’ the Gort begged and given the fact it was nearly 9pm, we declined and promised to play again in the morning.

Shortly after 8 the next morning, the Gort walked into our bedroom. ‘Can we play Settlers now? I have it all set up.’ A somewhat rude awakening to our Saturday morning, but we dragged ourselves out of bed and made coffee; readying ourselves for play. The Gort had each player roll the dice to see who would go first. He rolled a 5. The professor rolled a 4. He walked into the kitchen where I was grinding beans and handed me the dice. ‘You need to roll,’ he instructed. I clasped the red cube in my hand and before I could begin to shake it, I heard ‘Amen’. I looked at my eight year old boy. ‘Did you just pray that I wouldn’t roll a 6?’

He gave me the sheepish look of one who’d been caught out.

Once Settlers mania died down somewhat, we turned our attention to the 1000 piece puzzle of frogs. I’d gotten it because the Hen is especially fond of puzzles and I didn’t know if he’d be able to play Settlers just yet. But as soon as the puzzle pieces were on the table, I knew I’d made a mistake.

Yes, it is a lovely image of tree frogs. But that only accounts for half the puzzle. The other half is the green-blue-black background that looks fairly uniform throughout but with nano-variations in hue; discernible only between 12 and 2pm if the sun is shining outside.

And all of the pieces are wonky. As though cut by a crazy puzzle maker who knew he was about to be fired, so what the heck…

Two or three days later we’d figured out the frogs and that left……the green-blue-black background.


We’d taken to eating our meals at the coffee table because the dining table was covered with puzzle and Settlers.



‘Let’s just put it back in the box,’ the professor finally sighed, tired of the mess. ‘No,’ my quit-averse self protested. Even though I’d long given up trying to work on the puzzle.  ‘Let’s give it two more days,’ I suggested.


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