Here we go. I cast an apprehensive look at the complicated lines of the maze mapped out on my phone’s screen. I might have even taken a moment to enjoy the openness of the field around me and feel grateful to not be a pinball permanently trapped within the confines of those interweaving lines, but there was no time. The children rushed ahead of me into the corn maze like two puppies chasing a rabbit.
The thin path in the corn we stood on looked like something that ought to be used as subject matter for learning to draw dimensions. The path almost seemed to move as it narrowed into the distance, the opening ahead seeming to be swallowed up by the corn that otherwise looked to be so timidly surrounding it.
My husband and I hurried after the children, like tired old farm dogs looking for a bit of fun too, but lacking that puppy enthusiasm. It all seemed to be going well, and I was growing falsely confident. This isn’t hard, all we need to do is follow our instinctive sense of direction, I thought. We visit the Sykes Family Farms Corn Maze every October, and every October I have that same foolish thought process.
If only I had found some wood to knock on after having that jinxing thought, but there is no wood to be found in the middle of a corn field. It wasn’t long after that thought that we made a loop around a sign we had already seen…for the third time. The puppy enthusiasm was beginning to wane a bit, and then the inevitable happened—the tot wanted to be picked up. And that was when the great transformation happened.
The Corn Maze Frontier
I walked on, though the mud caked the edges of my petticoat. The babe was well past suckling age, but she had clung to my hip ever since the wagon broke a wheel in the swamp ten miles yonder. The boy walked on ahead of us with dirt streaked across his cheeks and his suspenders hanging raggedly. I said to myself, “Just as soon as we get back to civilization, I’m getting out the old scrub brush and wash pail and giving that boy a proper cleaning behind the ears.”
Pa led the way, stopping here and there to scrutinize an old tattered map while puffing on that corn cob pipe of his and unconsciously curling his mustache. His straw hat tittered in the wind in a similar fashion to the corn that surrounded us. I wasn’t so sure we would see the outside of a corn field before Christmas. But on I lumbered. The babe had fallen asleep and was bobbling her little head against my chest, startling every time my calloused old feet stumbled across a clod of dirt. That was when Pa spoke up.
And literally Pa, otherwise known as my husband, spoke up. He startled me out of my daydream.
“I think I know where we are,” he said. “Our shadows are facing south, so we should be heading this direction, and then…”
His voice faded into the distance. I had a distracting series of thoughts racing through my head, which I think are somewhat standard for women carrying heavy toddlers while lost in a corn maze.
Thoughts That Travel Through a Mother’s Head While Carrying a Toddler and Lost in a Corn Maze
There was an error. There is no path out of here.
There aren’t really any Children of the Corn. Of course there aren’t…
Crap, I have to pee.
Crap, it is going to rain and I didn’t bring an umbrella.
Crap, it stopped raining and now the humidity is going to make me melt.
Has anyone actually ever called 911 to get help getting out of a corn maze?
Yep, we might be here until midnight.
Crap, I really have to pee.
I’m pretty sure we have passed that same corn stalk three times, but it is so hard to tell.
Yep, there is no way out of here. Wait, what is that…
So It Turns Out There Is An Exit Out of the Corn Maze
Just like the map shows. My husband proudly announced that he had located a hole that most definitely represented a headlight on the maze’s tractor pattern that we were little ants walking around on. It was so suspiciously perfect, it looked more like the work of aliens to me, but I was staying optimistic.
Next, my husband (or Pa, if you prefer), was announcing that he had located various other landmarks drawn out in corn that were of great interest to my boy, but still looked very much just like corn to me. And then that magic moment happened—we saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Literally, it looked a lot brighter in the opening outside of the corn maze.
I paused outside the maze to look back at all that lovely corn. It rustled then in the breeze from all the long soft leaves tinkled in unison, like it called to me from another era. Maybe it was the silly daydream, or some whispers of the genes I carry from my farming ancestors, but the sound was reviving. If I had to be lost anywhere in the world, I thought, I would want to be lost in corn.
The tot woke up, and began to hop about with the boy in a congratulatory manner at having mastered the whole maze. And then they remembered the very impressive play area set up outside the corn field—complete with a super-sized jump pad and hay ride—and they began to rejoice all the more.
The corn was still doing that soft rustling song when I turned back to look at it once more, but this time I only blinked at it as I turned away. It’s back to civilization, I thought as I grasped one of the long thin leaves in my hand in passing.
Until next October.