A Maze of Ice

As a child (maybe 10 or 12?), I remember one of my favorite activities was going out to ‘get lost’ on my bike (yes, that sounded like, “Hey Mom, I’m going to get lost. I’ll be back I think!”). There was a neighborhood a mile away from mine that was nicely bordered by four busier streets, so I could never get actually lost, but inside, the neighborhood was a tangle of streets that I couldn’t quite get my mind around. And I didn’t try to. I loved the freedom of wandering carefree, noticing the details–not worrying about the big picture. I relished the safety, the comfort, the smallness of being lost. It was similar to the feeling of looking at the stars. I found the same joy in driving old logging roads, or rustling through the numerous, autumn corn mazes in rural Oregon as a teenager.

This past Sunday we went to the Alaska State Fairgrounds out in Palmer with the sole intent of getting lost in a maze of ice. I’ve written about being lost before, when we explored the word’s definitions after visiting Lost Lake in Seward, AK. But this was a notice-the-details, get lost somewhere safe, different kind of day trip.

And at first we just took to the paths (no running or touching allowed so we walked…enthusiastically), splitting off from each other and laughing when we would unexpectedly bump into each other again. But then we slowed down and started to look around.

The creator is manning the maze himself every evening, still trying to just break even. After working for a company that builds ice structures for a few years, he got the idea to try and break a Guinness world record for the largest ice maze. The construction is a mystery from the outside, but after water is seeped through and the magic of ice formation takes over, you cease to wonder how and just enjoy the show.

And then two of our ah, more competitive children figured out one of the three ways through the maze and began to want to be timed fast ‘walking’ through. They and my husband were astonished after an hour that I still had no idea where I was. Who takes after whom I wonder?

And then time found us and so we found ourselves. We were back at the beginning and then back to the car and then back home to our beds. It was delightful to be lost physically–harmlessly. Especially in these covid years in which we have lost much, including some of our sanity. And to realize that being lost means we can be found again, when we return to ourselves, anew.

“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed” – Mary Oliver

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