“C’mon, Mom! We’ve only been in the maze for three minutes!”
My children ran ahead, heedless of my desperation. “Don’t get too far ahead,” I called as they scampered ahead, laughing gleefully. “I’ll never see you again! And don’t call your mother a weenie.”
OK, so it wasn’t as bad as all that. Our first trip to a corn maze was going pretty well. The Eliada Children’s Home staff and volunteers had done a fabulous job turning 12 acres of rolling hillside just outside Asheville into a kids’ autumnal paradise. Tractors pulling flat beds and something called a cow train (plastic water barrels painted like cows for the little tykes) carried families across the open meadow. A gaggle of mostly boys waited in line for a chance to shoot slices of corn cob through an air pressure cannon toward targets below. Off to the right was the “Field of Screams,” closed until the dusk brought thrill-seeking teens and adults to its cobwebbed entrance.
From within the pirate ship corn maze, somewhere on the middle-length path (just over a mile long), I tried to orient myself by glancing toward the afternoon sun. The sky was stunning–puffy white clouds against a Carolina blue sky. A crisp breeze rustled the dry corn stalks around me. A dragon fly zoomed passed me down the path, showing off his aviation skills. Maybe my daughter was right: forget the map. We had plenty of time to lose ourselves in the maze.
That feeling lasted about 90 seconds as I followed my kids around a bend I was pretty sure we’d already covered. Then I stopped and took the map out of my pocket. I scrutinized it. We’d come in down by the hull of the ship shape (so to speak). Then we’d gone forward and leftish. Where the heck were we?
My friend Anna came up beside me and barely glanced at the map, then put her finger near the ship’s main sail. “We’re here. See? We just passed this intersection.”
“Um, yeah, of course,” I said, nodding knowingly. I glanced around at the myriad paths surrounding us. “So that means we should go, er—“
“Ahead and to the right,” said Ms. Living Compass, taking her toddler’s hand. “Come on, Mackenzie.”
“I knew that,” I muttered. “Hey, wait up! Don’t leave me!”
We made our way through, pausing long enough for all the kids to mark their treasure maps at each of nine little stations hidden in the maze. (Not hidden to Anna of course. “Number seven is just ahead. Take the second left!”) Once we exited the maze, the kids turned in their treasure maps for genuine pirate booty, if pirates sail the high seas in search of temporary tattoos and Jolly Ranchers. Then we went over the kiddie haybale maze so Mackenzie could do crayon rubbings of different animal tracks. (Love those learning opportunities!)
So if you’re looking for something to get you outside on a gorgeous fall day between now and Halloween, head on over to the Eliada campus (www.FieldsOfFun.org) or one of the area’s other corn mazes. No matter your age, they’ve got an activity for you. And if you have a friend who reads maps, by all means, invite them along.
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