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By Michelle Hickerson

The Corn Maze

By Michelle Hickerson Posted October 21, 2011 at 4:21 am

My recent perusal of the latest newsworthy events resulted in a most disturbing visual. It seems that last Monday, in the fine town of Danvers, Massachusetts, a young family became hopelessly lost in the 7-acre corn maze at a local farm. When, shortly after the farm’s closing time, it became apparent to the puzzle-solving-challenged crew that the situation had reached a dire level, they took it upon themselves to end the nightmare (their word, not mine) by summoning local police via a 911 emergency cell phone call.
 
Being that the group was a mere 25 feet from a major thoroughfare, it didn’t take long for the responding police officer and his dog to locate the distraught and disoriented victims of the seasonally fun activity gone wrong. But still, the story did get me thinking.
 
It’s just not fun to find oneself hopelessly lost among tall stalks of corn. I wouldn’t want that kind of frightening situation for myself, and I certainly wouldn’t wish it upon any of you. So I have taken it upon myself to come up with some guidelines to be utilized when selecting an appropriate, family friendly corn maze this autumn – a kind of corn maze survival guide, if you will. Armed with my tips, even the most navigationally inept readers should have no problems when faced with the dilemma of trudging a successful path through a life-sized maze of corn and ultimately achieving their goal, which, of course, is the interior of the vehicle in which they originally arrived at the farm.
 
I will note that my tips are of the tried-and-true variety. Indeed, I used them in selecting the corn maze that my family spent a full 5 ½ minutes traipsing through this afternoon. I am proud to say that we did not get lost and not a single police officer was summoned to the site. Aside from the kids’ 45 minute “discussion” berating everyone from the owner of the farm to me to the cows innocently grazing nearby for forcing them to endure the most boring and lame “corn path” in North Carolina, possibly even in the entire Northern hemisphere, I would say that our family foray into the agricultural world was a raving success.
 
When selecting a corn maze that you will be able to successfully navigate, it is important to consider the height of the corn stalks. Obviously, high corn stalks camouflage both person and path and can quickly disorient. Be smart like we were. Pick a maze with corn stalks not exceeding 36 inches in height, 24 inches if you have particularly short children. Being able to see your car at all times throughout the corn maze experience does wonders for eliminating that all-too-frightening “lost” feeling.
 
Some mazes are ridiculously complicated, with a dizzying array of dead-ends, multiple path choices and loops. Choose a maze with but a single directed path and you are well on your way to making it from the start point to the finish without the assistance of a trained professional.
 
It goes without saying that the larger the acreage of the maze, the longer it will take to navigate your way out. Do what we did – avoid the 7-acre nightmares in favor of a sweet little 1/5-acre maze. It’s hard to get lost when you’re never further than 50 feet from your car.
 
A densely-planted field of corn may certainly showcase the planting skills of the resident farmer. But believe me, efficient corn placement and crop density are the last things you’ll care about when you’ve been walking in circles for 3 hours and panic has set in. Better to select a corn maze with corn stalks placed a good 48 inches apart and giant weed-filled bald patches making up most of the interior of the field. If worse comes to worse, you can simply leave the plowed path helpfully covered in hay and walk through the weeds to the parking lot, easily stepping around the errant corn stalk in your way.
 
Prior to entering the maze, always be sure you have your kit of safety essentials – band-aids, antiseptic cleanser, snacks, plenty of water and, of course, a bullhorn with fresh batteries to summon farm personnel should the need arise.
 
So there you have it. Michelle’s fail-proof tips for making it through a corn maze situation without the need to bother our hard-working police officers, who hopefully have a lot more important things to do than rescue you from your fall afternoon family corn outing.
 
Just remember – have fun, stay safe and try your best to mentally block all those “Children of the Corn” images that keep popping up at the most inopportune moments during your maze-solving quest. And if worse comes to worse and you simply have no choice but to summon assistance, at least try to maintain a smidgen of dignity. Don’t blame your problems on the corn. At least have the sense to feign some kind of medical emergency.
 
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