A-Mazing Labyrinth Making

Now, where was I? Oh yes, setting the table. With the labyrinth base ready for action, Charlie and Jacob returned the next day to lay out the edging and create the labyrinth pathways. Vinny had told us a brilliant way to do this which was far more efficient than we would have done otherwise. It made screeding the sand so easy and the edging more stable. You would think this particular job (other than pounding massive spike-nails into the heavily compacted aggregate by hand) would be easy. I assure you that it was not. This was a serious cognitive exercise and I hope that Charlie will thank Mary and me later for keeping his retired brain nimble. Jacob is Mary’s son who just graduated from UConn (Go Huskies!) and who, while able to calculate angles and perform geometric feats, has still not received a job offer for those of you needing an incredibly smart, dedicated, and fun business associate. (Jacob is interviewing with numerous companies so act quickly if you want to snap him up!)

(A little aside: do you know the difference between a maze and a labyrinth? That’s the question I like asking the students when I do presentations about the garden. Some hands inevitably come up and sometimes the answer is close to being right but not quite. I always ask if anyone’s gotten lost in a corn-maze and explain that in a maze there are dead-ends. In a labyrinth there is just one continuous path that usually leads to a center then returns back on itself. Many times a labyrinth is made using concentric circles. We chose a pattern which looks like a maze but in which young children won’t get lost. We want them to be able to navigate the labyrinth by themselves to increase self-confidence. This is accomplished by risk-taking and adventure in a safe setting in which they can succeed.)

Laying out the pathway of our labyrinth was actually like being in a maze: it was easy to get lost. The process of counting how many 18”x18” pavers up from the entrance, and how many rows over, and trying to remember which length was a walking path and which was to be a planting bed, as well as where the ends of each section were, took some serious mental concentration. Then, of course, you had to step out of the maze and stand back at a distance, counting and measuring again. This exercise took two days. Jacob needed to leave at 3:00 on Wednesday but, due to his fierce dedication, he stayed until around 5:00. I joked that the labyrinth was actually the “Hotel California”— you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave! Sure enough, Charlie and Jacob were back at it on Thursday, determined to beat this puzzle . . . and they did!

It really was cool watching them create it, measuring with a T-square, and making sure that there was exactly the amount of space for the pavers and not any more or less. We needed near-perfection in order to make it easier to actually lay the heavy pavers. Did I mention that they worked through the pouring rain? Well, that’s dedication, my friends!

Meanwhile, I had run to Pride’s Corner in Lebanon to pick up native grasses that they donated (thank you Prides!). Pfizer volunteers would be planting them the next day. On the way back I noticed a small business, Construction Materials Inc. in North Lebanon.  I wanted some flat rocks to dig into the soil around the waterfall to create safe pathways for entry into the falls. Grasses, on the other hand, would be used to dissuade children from entering at spots that were less desirable entry points. I decided to pop in and see if this business would donate a few rocks. I told the proprietor about the garden and he was impressed with the idea of allowing kids into the falls as most people try and keep kids out of them. I told him that this garden was the opposite of most, that we want children to go off the paths, climb on the boulders, pick the flowers, and smell the leaves. He too believed that we need to get kids off their electronic devices and out in nature. He showed me a pile of perfectly-shaped stones and told me to take whichever ones I wanted. How’s that for the universe providing?!

I am stopping here so we can post all of the labyrinth creation photos, my car full of grass and rocks, and my dog Lulu’s disgusted look for taking up her sacred passenger space with plants. There is so much to share (thank God) that these posts get lengthy. Stay tuned for my post about Friday, when the Coast Guard Academy and Pfizer volunteers came and kicked some serious dirt!

  • Jacob uses a screed board to level the sand in the edging channel while Charlie checks the fit of a paver
    Jacob uses a screed board to level the sand in the edging channel while Charlie checks the fit of a paver