Friday, March 14, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 11

Hedge Maze ~ Healesville
Find Your Way Out Of A Maze

There's no way I'd set foot in a maze without a friend. Not with my potential to end up stranded in a twisted labyrinth.

So for this week's 52 Dates for Writers challenge, I took along the best friend I've got. My Beloved. 

We celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary recently with an excursion to Melbourne's foothills. After a slow breakfast, Hedgend Maze beckoned from around the bend, and dared us to put our minds and legs to the test. 

The author in me was to consider the paths I carve out for my characters. Are they signposted with foreshadowing? Do they lead to satisfying/frustrating outcomes? Do dead ends tip emotions (and readers) into new and challenging ways forward? 

Keen for the adventure and author experience, we bought our entry ticket from the lady behind the counter. She wore one of those, have fun smiles that held the wisdom of seeing those who actually exit... days later. 

Undeterred, we shot her our best just watch us return in half an hour smiles and headed off to conquer the maze ~ the 1200m cypress maze, riddled with clues to a secret message. What a great way to spend a morning, walking through a pretty maze, collecting puzzle pieces. Fun...right?

Sort of. 

For the first hour.

Scattered in corners we only found by sheer luck, signposts revealed hidden numbers and letters snuck in by those who keep the attraction well manicured for guests. Planted with such stealth so we wouldn't stumble upon each clue with ease, we found ourselves encountering the same corners. The same clues we'd already pencilled onto our visitor's map. Every few turns lead to the same area we thought we'd walked miles to escape. Until we faced each other and knew exactly why the front gate lady smiled. 

At the 44624m mark, we were still in a tangle of well clipped bushes. By now, every row looked the same. Hadn't we already stopped here 15 minutes ago? Yes... see... we have this clue. Already. 

And so began the backtracking, to where we thought, perhaps, we needed to turn right. Or was it go straight?

Armed with the desire to not be beaten by a labyrinth of cypress plants we shuffled on. Only three clues eluded us. Why couldn't we find the remaining pieces to the puzzle?

The slow realisation it was past midday and the winery/restaurant down the road offered outdoor tables and chairs with little need to calculate anything beyond menu choices... spurred us on. 

An older couple passed us with only one clue left to find. They leaned into the orange scented hedge as if it were their best friend. "Don't give up." They glowed with achievement just within their reach. "We're almost there, you're not far behind."

But we didn't know where to find the path to almost there. I stood on a corner while my Beloved ploughed right into an already visited dead end. He followed my voice back and we tried again. 

This time I attempted a leaf strewn path while he waited. A sharp left, another sharp left, a twist and a zigzag and I was back in his ams. Minus our clue. 

We started to think of names we might call the maze designers. They weren't complimentary. We focused on their mischievous ability to hold us right where they wanted us. They'd set us on a course where the end-gate remained as far off as the hope of a vine covered Autumn lunch table. 

We consulted our clues, lined up in a row with three key letters missing. 

And that's when we found it. 

All we had to do was sound out the hidden message, and the letters jumped off our tongue and fit the puzzle. In a wild pencil scribble the answers spilled onto the page and we were done! (I won't share the mystery, for those who might someday wish to visit Hedgend Maze.) 

Glory, Hallelujah, we'd used our guessing skills to end the quest and now, victorious and smug, we headed off hand in hand for whatever the cooks had simmering in their pans. 

We'd truimphed. Not how we imagined, that would be too obvious... but we'd found a satisfying solution. 

End of story. 
Happy Ending of Story.

We passed the smiling lady ~ the urge to poke her in the eye with a cypress stick long forgotten. We liked her now. She'd opened the gate and let us in to a fun ride. And we'd returned happier for the adventure. 

As an author, will I do this to you? Will I mess with your heart and trap you in a corner? Will I let you think there's clues to collect only to release you into a sweet ending just when you think there's no more answers to be found? 

You bet I will.

That's why I do these challenges. They remind me of my author obligation to consider my characters' journeys through the messy maze I create... because in the end... it's the same maze my reader will follow. 

Hopefully, that will be you someday. 

Celebrating 24 years of  'cheek to cheek'

Have you ever found your way through a living hedge maze? I'd love to know where it is. 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,