Be a-maized at The FARM
The sun is high in the sky and it is a sweltering Friday afternoon. I am standing in the middle of a man-made clearing, completely surrounded by corn stalks. The aromas of sweet corn and freshly cut grass fill the air, and as I look farther down a winding path in front of me, I get the faintest suspicion that I am lost.
I have been to The FARM Institute several times before, but this is my first adventure into their five-acre corn maze. I bring along my mom for company, and despite the fact that she is a licensed sea captain I soon realize her navigational skills are not going to help us find the exit any time soon.
"This is what Danny Torrance must have felt like in 'The Shining,'" I think to myself as I gaze up at where the tips of the corn stalks meet the skyline, feeling slightly melodramatic. My mother, on the other hand, does not seem to share my anxiety about being trapped amidst towering vegetables. Instead, she is marveling at the height of the corn, and the quantity of it, and trying to catch butterflies as they flutter from stalk to stalk.
At one point she stops and I see her hovering over a fallen ear with her cell phone poised and camera-ready, and I ask, "Why are you taking a picture of corn?"
"Because it's cool," she replies. Touché.
Since we neglected to pick up the map of the maze supplied by The FARM - obviously, the element of surprise just makes it so much more exciting - we meander aimlessly for a while until we reach a sign that says, 'End of beginner maze,' and a sign just below it that reads, 'Advanced maze,' with an arrow pointing to the right.
"There are two mazes?" my mother asks. She looks at me excitedly as she walks past the signs and towards the path that leads to a much longer trek. I begin to follow her, but she stops abruptly, and I crash into her.
"What's wrong?" I ask her.
"You go first," she says smiling, and steps aside to allow me to take the lead. I walk ahead of her and hear the quiet 'crunch' as my flip-flop meets a rogue piece of corn that seems to have magically parted with its husk. We are the only people in the field, and save for a few mooing cows, the maze is peaceful and quiet.
As I continue on, I notice red string tied between stalks, and point it out to my mom.
"I think that's to make sure you stay on the path," she says. We walk silently for a few minutes, until the path takes us to what appears to be a dead end. The tall maze of maize corners us thickly on three sides, but there is an opening... through a roped-off wall of corn.
Deviously, I lift up the red string and walk under, holding it for my mom so that she can cross the path as well.
After walking for another couple of minutes, we find ourselves at another dead end. "Smooth move," I applaud myself.
At this point, we are both sweating and there is little to no breeze. I notice my mom's shoulders turning pink, and look at my own arms for evidence of imminent sunburn.
"Well, what do you think?" she asks me. I can tell she's had enough maze fun for one day.
"I guess we are only beginners today," I joke as we turn around and backtrack towards the easy way out.
As we exit the maze, we see a female FARM employee sitting at a table reading a book.
"How'd you do?" she asks us, grinning.
"We are beginners," I admit.
"Yeah," she replies, "you should really bring a map next time."
Lauren Folino is the news intern at The Times.
Corn Maze 10 am-7 pm, The FARM Institute, Katama, Edgartown. 5-acre maze open daily. $10; $5 ages 3-14; free for 2 and under. 508-627-7007; farminstitute.org.