A Kansas Couple Creatively Walk The Path
by Emily and Zach Hemmerling, guest bloggers
Anyone who has ever spent hours picking green beans knows it’s a thankless job. Aching backs, mosquito bites, and soaked sweatbands, all for a few pounds of produce that is consumed almost embarrassingly fast. Last spring, I made a resolution. If I was going to toil under the summer sun in that special brand of syrupy humidity unique to south-central Kansas, then I was going to make it look good.
String Bean Labyrinth
I decided I wanted a green bean labyrinth. My indulgent husband got quite a kick out of the idea, and planted the seeds in the sketched-out shape I left for him on the kitchen counter one morning. It’s a simple labyrinth, just a few turns, and the lines are three plants thick. We planted three different varieties: Jade, Royalty Purple Pod, and Dragon’s Tongue.
Two great flushes of beans gave us about twelve pounds before a sudden heat wave crumpled all but the inner circle. It was still a job to “go pickin’,” but the labyrinth made it easier. And, it was always nice to suddenly find myself in the middle, and even nicer to see I’d already filled my basket without realizing it. Sometimes when my husband got home from his landscaping work we would walk the labyrinth. We’d talk about our days or plan a camping trip, or dream about what the orchard will look like in a few years. Those few minutes to reconnect before moving on to our respective evening chores would keep us going. Then the pig-weed moved in, and by that time the grapes were turning, leaving the labyrinth to slowly dissolve back into the ground. The field where the green bean labyrinth was is already planted to red clover and will be fallowed next year. Since the next plot in rotation is a bit too narrow to hold a proper labyrinth, it might be a few years before the next vegetable labyrinth takes shape. It’s worth the wait.
Editor note: Below is a You Tube video about drawing three and five circuit labyrinths. Lars Howlett is a skilled builder and facilitator connected with The Labyrinth Society.