It seems like just yesterday we were playing around in the pool in the hot sun. But alas, the dog days of summer are behind us, school has started and fall is here.
But just because the days are getting shorter and temperatures are starting to drop doesn’t mean that the outdoor fun has to stop.
One great way to enjoy the autumn weather and expend some energy is to get lost.
I’m not suggesting you wander aimlessly. Instead take in a maze. You can find them everywhere if you know where to look. They come in all shapes and sizes.
My kids started as toddlers playing in a hay maze the vegetable stand near our house puts up every fall. You can also find hay mazes at festivals and neighborhood events.
I went through the maze with the twins the first couple of times. But it wasn’t long before they were taking on the maze solo.
Hay mazes are great for younger kids for several reasons. They are usually small enough that the children don’t get discouraged trying to find the exit.
The hay is also often stacked short enough that as a parent you can look over the top of it and feel comfortable letting your child go through alone, but still tall enough for it to be a challenge for the kids.
But what I like most about hay mazes is when the kids come to a crossroads in the path, watching them make a decision about which path to take. Can’t you just hear Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” being recited in the background?
What’s even more interesting is watching their reaction when they come to a dead end. How do they react? Do they retrace their steps? Can they find the right path? I’m always amazed to watch their reasoning skills in action.
But if you and your family are looking for more of a challenger, I recommend trying a corn maze.
My first experience with a corn maze was at Cherry Crest Farm in Pennsylvania. To truly appreciate this maze you have to see an aerial view. But the real fun is when you try to manipulate your way through the stalks.
We also frequent the maze at the Chesterfield Berry Farm in Virginia. Among the corn your challenge doubles. You must not only find your way out, but you must also find certain checkpoints along the way (and they aren’t necessarily on the direct exit route) and get your ticket punched. If you get your card punched at every station you get a prize at the end.
And for those of you more adventuresome, hit the maze after dark (where allowed) and try your luck among the stalks by flashlight. My twins very first maze experience when they were still in carriers was at the West Nursery at night with only a flashlight to guide us. At this maze, to help us along the way, at critical intersections were trivia questions about the area’s history. It’s very help if you know your history.
But the maze fun doesn’t have to end with Halloween. A maze of lights is the perfect addition to your Christmas light tour. Lewis Botanical Gardens in Virginia adds two light mazes (of varying levels) to their Garden of Lights. And let me tell you that the lights add a degree of difficulty I didn’t expect.
But like the hay mazes, light mazes are usually low enough for parents to allow children to test out their skills solo.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get lost.