I don’t generally like going through cornfield mazes, or ‘maize mases’ as I call them. I am of an age in which I get lost easily, and can have a hard time looking for my car, it’s gray, in a shopping centre parking lot. If something is designed to confuse, it makes it that much harder for me to find my way.
But my six-year-old granddaughter Mia wanted to go through it, and that made it an attractive proposition. I will try very hard for the two of us not to get lost. Maybe she will be better at finding her way than I am. I would not be surprised if she were.
Her mother had dressed her well for the trek. She wore farmer-type jeans with straps over her shoulders, a checkered shirt, boots, and a straw hat that I bought her at the store at the entrance to the old farm where the corn maze (or the maize mais as I said to her and had to explain that maize was another word for corn) was. Although I sometimes have problems with my pants starting to fall down, I wore regular old jeans with not straps or suspenders, using instead a belt pulled to its limit with a hole I made myself with the sharp point of a pair of scissors.
The cornfield was huge. We could not see the end of it as we got out of our car. It even seemed to dwarf the evergreen forest to the south.
Then we were off. She took me by the hand and led me through the cornfield maze. I admired her confidence, although after about 20 minutes wandering, we did start to see two or three places that we had seen before. This did not daunt her, and I wasn’t going to tell her of our return to those places. She was enjoying herself, and that was the main point of the exercise, wasn’t it.
Our time in the maze moved on. There seemed to be no escaping it. Now it seemed that we had been down every part of the maze except for the part that let us escape into the open field. I had silently admitted defeat a long while back, but Mia was slower to give up on our trek. I did not want to discourage her in any way. So we walked on and on, stopping only to admire a particularly special cornstalk in Mia’s mind at least. I was not sure what traits determined her choice, but there was a certainty there, for sure.
I don’t own a watch, and I’m too old to imagine one of them being either fit or smart Still, I was pretty sure that at least an hour and a half had gone by in our wandering through the cornfield. Mia still had her energy, though, and wanted to continue the search. So on we went, an energetic little girl followed by a tired, but trying not to look that way old man. I must admit that there was still some joy to the walk at that time.
Even the Energizer Bunny Runs Down Eventually
About half an hour later Mia just stopped. She breathed rather heavily for a short time, and then asked me, “Opa, can we get out of the maze now? I am getting tired.” She looked up at me in such a way that I felt like a hero, a worn out one, but still worthy of the title.
Of course, at first I had no good idea where to go. But then it came to me in a flash. In the evergreen forest beside the field I had spotted a small cluster of tameracks. It is an unusual tree in that it is a deciduous not an evergreen conifer. Its soft needles turn a kind of golden colour in the fall, and eventually hit the ground. As it was late in September, the needles had turned. I remember seeing that just before we entered the maze. If I looked towards the forest, trying to spot that colour, it could be our golden beacon. After some searching with my life-worn eyes, I finally saw what I was looking for. I then told her about the tree. “We just have to head in the direction of the golden tree.” I then pointed in the direction, and she jumped rather high for a six-year old and exclaimed, “I see it. I see it. That’s brilliant, Opa. You’re brilliant Opa.” I’ll bet I glowed in response.
Seeking an Exit
With the golden tamerack as our guide, we searched for an escape from the maze. Our spirits began to pick up, you can always see that in Mia, as we got closer to the trees. We both walked with a bit of a spring in our steps. This would be a good story to tell her Omi, her parents and her younger brother Billy Bob (as I always call the little boy officially named William Robert).
We got closer and closer, but each time it seemed that we got near to what had been our entrance and now our hopeful exit, the path would turn, and lead us away from the tamaracks of our hope. I was a loss as to what to do. I should have known that Mia would come up with a strategy.
“Opa, I will go off the path and walk straight to the golden tamaracks.” I should have thought of that, but I am glad that she did. I could return the “That’s brilliant.”
The path that we were on began, predictably, to turn away from the tamaracks. Before we could decide in what way we should go straight for the golden trees, we heard, just barely, a small sound. Without saying a word, Mia scrambled in amongst the corn stalks to discover the source of the sound. As I started to follow her on her makeshift path, Mia yelled out so loud that if the trees had ears in their treetops they might have heard her. “Opa, Opa, come here.” I of course did, walking as fast as I could, hoping that she had not been hurt, and that I would not trip and fall.
When I saw her, she was pointing at something just ahead of her. It was a puppy very much the colour of the tamaracks. The puppy started running, and the two of us chased after it until we were all clear of the cornstalks and the problem of the maze.. Mia then stopped and spoke with her softest voice to the dog. It stopped too, and Mia approached it slowly, eventually bending down and picking it up and holding it tight. I knew at that moment that Mia, Omi and I might have to do a bit of talking to her parents to allow her to keep the dog. I didn’t anticipate any real problem with that.
“What are you going to call this dog?” I asked. “Tamarack” was her unsurprising answer.
When we asked the owners of the cornfield about the puppy, they told us that the mother was wild and that the other puppies had found good homes. I told them that this one would find one as well.