I’m in a certain amount of trouble.
The corn maze at Marini Farm has become a cherished annual tradition — they actually have a website just for the corn maze, at MariniCornMaze.com — and my understanding is that, if you don’t try it, you’re not a worthy Ipswich citizen. The Marinis carve a huge, complicated cartoon out of their cornfield — a cartoon you could only see if you’re flying overhead, either by airplane, or by helicopter, or by being shot from Willowdale State Forest out of a cannon aimed toward Rowley. This year’s corn maze is a huge T-rex with a pterodactyl on its back. A sinister omen, I’m afraid.
A maze of any kind is terrifying to me, because I have no sense of direction. So I have cleverly avoided trying out the Marini corn maze. I’ll be out of town, sorry. I have allergies, sorry. I have a sprained tibia, sorry. Scratched cornea, itchy palms, irritable Town Meeting syndrome. Stuff like that.
But Marini doesn’t help you much, if your goal is to avoid the maze, because they operate all the way from September 7 through November 2. That’s 57 whole days of risk for someone trying to avoid it. Maybe you can claim workload during the work week. Maybe you can claim church attendance on Sunday, up to a point. But they will ultimately defeat you. Your kid will beg to go to Marini’s corn maze, not only for the maze itself, but for all the fun, cool stuff outside the maze area, like those big bouncy things that kids love to bounce on. Your kid will also want to climb through the tunnel thing, and pump the pumps on the old-fashioned pumpy duck-raicey thingies.
And there’s a good snack bar, with a tent and picnic tables, and friendly people behind the counter, and a wide-ranging menu — everything from corn dogs to cotton candy, and fried dough with a choice of three toppings.
Also, just before you get to the corn maze, there’s a rope maze, which is like an entry-level corn maze. It’s complicated like the corn maze, but you can see out the whole time you’re in the maze, and everyone can see you. So of course it’s humiliating to get trapped in there, but at least they can find the body.
Inside the actual corn maze, you’re at significantly greater risk of becoming crop fertilizer.
Here’s what I have learned in Marini’s corn maze.
1. Get your fried dough before you go in, because you may never come out.
2. There are numerous stations inside the maze, with interesting clues that children can collect to solve interesting puzzles. None of these clues are intelligible to an adult.
3. They give you a flag on a long pole — it’s taller than the corn — with instructions to hold it up and wave it if you get lost, so that Marini’s friendly personnel can come rescue you. However, if you stop to look at one of the clue stations, and you set your flag down while you’re studying it, and you forget to pick it up before you move on, your flag will be lost forever, and so will you.
4. You can start out with your family, but if they say you should go left at a fork in the path and you’re sure you should go right, and they let you strike out on your own, you’re doomed.
5. If you find that you have made it as far as the eye of the pterodactyl, you will have the strong sensation that this would have been the perfect location for a porta-pottie.
6. In the maze, I can hear the children out there, bouncing on the bouncy things, laughing with such sheer joy that it brings tears to my eyes. Not because the children are so precious, but because those children are so close to me. They’re within earshot, but they’re outside the maze, but I can’t get there.
7. There are two high wooden footbridges standing at various points in the corn maze. If you happen to come across one, you can climb the steps and look out over the cornfield in all directions. You can see the children jumping on the jumpy things. What you can’t see is the maze itself. Which means you still can’t find your way out.
8. When you finally miss your third meal, you can cave in, break the rules, and pick an ear of corn. But unless you brought some gear in with you — a pot half full of water, a camp stove with fuel, and a book of matches — you’ll have to eat it raw.
9. There is no WIFI in the corn maze. However, the cell signal is strong, which enables you to phone for help, unless you’re too embarrassed, or your calls to your wife all go directly to voicemail. If you have GPS on your cell phone, you can also see exactly where you are, except that the maze itself is too new to appear on any online maps, so seeing exactly where you are does you no good whatsoever.
If you see my family anywhere out there, please tell them I still love them, even though they lost me in here. Assure them that I am not making any assumptions about whether they did it on purpose, and let them know that I apologize for my whining after we’d been in the maze for an hour, and my cussing beginning at the 90-minute mark. Also please let them know, even if they deliberately lost me, all is forgiven. And if they could please come find me, I would be grateful.
Sent from my iPhone.