The state park near where I live is not very frequented, all the better for Ottie and I. He has been able to roam leash free for years and mingle with other like-minded dogs. Shortly after walking through the entrance, one is presented with a fork in the road: to the right is a long hike which ends at a large water tank and to the left is a short 20 minute uphill walk leading to a large maze that someone painstakingly built with rocks and lovingly tends to this day. Both choices afford a wonderful view of the Pacific, from two different angles. I tend to favour the right hike because it’s longer and because the maze has started to attract people, especially on Sundays, when some sort of ritual is performed.
In all these years, I never explored the side trails I could see while walking purposefully to keep up with Ottie and to keep my butt in shape. Then, a few months ago, boredom set in and Ottie and I decided to venture out. The first surprise, after a rough downhill jaunt more suited to a goat, was finding two centenary oaks, branches intertwined, that afford a restful expanse of shade, perfect for a picnic, if lugging down food, blankets and chairs wasn’t that arduous. Further on, a few weeks back, while standing on a ledge, we spotted a much smaller maze, that another mystery hiker took the time to build. Ottie and I have been trying to find the trail leading to it ever since, with not much success.
Today, we were determined. After jumping over a baby rattler who seemed more terrified than we were, we set out on this beautiful Memorial Day week-end. We stopped by the oaks for an apple and a cookie and soldiered on. Standing atop the trail, we could make out the maze and I estimated how much further we would need to veer right in order to reach it. The problem is, there are no marked trails. Three times we followed false leads that dead-ended into thick vegetation. On the fourth try, I was sure we had found it. Marching ahead to patrol possible rattlesnakes Ottie would find interesting, I could nearly see the maze, until, ankles cut up by all the branches I insisted on parting, once again I found myself in front of a wall of impenetrable brambles.
We looked at each other, Ottie and I, slightly defeated. He would have prodded on: nearly 10 and still marching on like a marathoner (while Portia wears an expression of “Remind me again, why are we doing this?”) but I decided this little maze was clearly a personal endeavour that whomever built did not want to share with the rest of us.
Mazes, before becoming fashionable forms of entertainment in many European courts and built with hedges that encouraged loss of orientation, were originally walking paths to help focus on meditation and prayer. Maybe this little maze was built as an offering, maybe it’s just a little retreat for someone in need of peace and quiet. I will not mess with it – giving up, for once, felt strangely good.