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Monday, August 13, 2007


This past Saturday, our good friends JPB and AP called us up--a bit out of the blue--and asked us if we might be interested in accompanying them on a Sunday daytrip to visit a labyrinthe de maize just outside of Montréal. Let's see here, that would mean a corn maze? Yes, a corn maze. (Maize--also sometimes written maïs--is one of the French words for corn, not for maze; all further puns are fully intentional.) A maize maze, if you will. Hah!

Regular readers know that H and I are almost always game for these sorts of adventures, and JPB and AP are fantastic company, so of course we said we'd go.

In case you didn't know what you were getting into.

Mid-August is fairly late in the growing season for corn in Québec, so the corn was astonishingly tall. We took a few random turns and immediately found ourselves... not exactly lost. But not exactly found either.

"Hold on. Did we turn left or right at the last intersection? Hey, those two look like they know where they're going. Follow them!"

Well, at least we a map. (And yes, they really do plant the corn in this pattern. No mowing. Pretty cool, eh?) Looking at it, perhaps you're wondering what all those little clearings are. We wondered the same thing. Turns out the maze was full of surprises--"a maze to amaze!" Hah! Of course, some of the surprises were hardly surprising.

If you happen upon a beautiful woman eating corn in the heart a corn maze, you're not exactly astounded, are you? Especially if you brought the beautiful woman with you.

But then, other discoveries were less predictable.

It's not every day you chance upon a toadstool princess wielding a quarterstaff.

Turns out that the corn maze is organized as a quest. There are little "stations" set up all over the labyrinth, and at each little station you watch a minimalist performance which contains a bit of crucial information. At the end, you meet the Black Knight, who tests your knowledge with Sphinx-like riddles. (On the order of, "What color were the caps on the witch's toadstools?" Sphinx-like. Oh, yeah.) Wait a second. A Black Knight?

If Elvira and Paddington Bear met for a single, searing night of unprotected passion...

Yes, a Black Knight. And if you "defeat" him by answering his riddles, he gives you directions to the exit. Just imagine how these young Quebeckers are going to treat US tourists when they grow up. "The nearest border crossing, eh? Can you first tell me the number of fleurs de lys there are on the Québec flag?"

On your way out from the Black Knight, though, you are treated to a small wonder.

Each "leaf" is a wish, if I understood correctly.

There is nothing so humble that it cannot inspire wonder, if only our hearts are ready to receive it. Even a wishing tree in a corn maze. Yes, even that.

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