Feeding the Habit

I have a certain love for crossword puzzles. This is new. I just started them. 

A close friend of mine does them on Sunday mornings in the Starbucks at Central Square in Cambridge. It struck me as a really charming hobby; to sit with the crossword page in the center of a hustling and bustling square on a yawning Sunday morning. At 10 or so, there's still an ample amount of people but there is certainly a sense of leisure about it. There are less people, or somehow they are moving less quickly. Since he's off to Paris for the spring, I've filled in his spot with a pen and some ambition in Central Square. 

I've done enough of them now to know what it is I like about them, besides making me think about a word or phrase in a different way, and that odd elation of knowing an obscure name or phrase I couldn't bring forth to the tip of my tongue otherwise. It's the words I don't know. The lingering empty spaces in the squares, looking for letters. (Double entendre anyone?) How hard I have to work to fill those in--boy, I remember those. 

And with the advent of Wikipedia, I'm able to look them up afterwards and gain a little education on words like tempera, and stitching awls. I'll admit it can be addictive. Learning often is. But lately, in an attempt to justify my enthrallment, I had been on the lookout for an article or a study stating how great crossword puzzles are for my mental well-being and how wonderful I'll be in my golden years due to this little habit. Instead I found an article suggesting no particular correlation (Thank You NPR). But at the end of the article, the author posited that people who fall into crossword puzzles often do so because they did them with a family member when they were younger. And it occurred to me that I'm one of those people--my Great-Grandfather Donald Hardy and I used to sit together and do crossword puzzles and word searches. Well honestly he would do the crossword puzzles and I would do the word searches. But it was a memory I had forgotten until mention was made of this connection. He passed down a love for a good pen; this much I remember through him and my father. And maybe he passed down the love for a good crossword puzzle too. 

It's amazing how I can come so far in life and still be attached to those early days.