"I found something!"
"Eggs, I found eggs!"
"I saw a rabbit!"
"I see it, I see it, Mommy!"
A few clouds and raindrops couldn't dampen the spirits of Cindy Thomas' kindergarten class as the children explored an outdoor garden maze on a field trip Tuesday.
Appropriately dressed in coats and boots, the kids ignored the weather and even the mosquitoes, wandering through the small flower and shrub maze and seeking the items on their scavenger hunt lists.
"We found the way out," a child shouted with pride at the end of the journey.
"We did it," added another, pausing only a moment before turning back to the entrance and starting over.
The maze is the creation of Kim Hyde, an avid gardener and Soroptimists member, who wanted to bring a bit of Europe home to Alaska.
"We went to Europe and visited a beautiful maze at Hampton Court," Hyde expl-ained. "If queens can have them, so can I."
Hailey Whitney and Preston Gillin look at one of the treasures they were supposed to discover on their maze adventure.
Hyde's garden isn't exactly a replica of the European mazes. Instead of perfectly ordered shrubbery, Hyde has horse radish, strawberries, sweet peas and honeysuckle weaving between trees. Where the European gardens are a steady green, Hyde's alternates between bright pink blooms, healthy green leaves and fading autumn yellows. And while the traditional garden mazes draw tourists, Hyde's labyrinth calls to a wilder bunch -- moose cows and calves looking for a place to sleep.
But even though Hyde's three-year endeavor will never be the size of Hampton Court's half-mile trek, the four-foot high plants and simple series of twists, turns and dead ends does provide sufficient adventure for the younger folks.
After all, noted one of Tuesday's field trip supervisors, "They're only five years tall."
Adding to the adventure, Hyde has hidden a small trove of treasures throughout the maze to keep children hunting as they explore.
As kids wander through the garden, they can check off a list of items -- from clay teddy bears and angels to eggs, fossils and petite shoes.
Hyde opened her maze up to children this summer, inviting friends to bring their kids by for an afternoon of outdoor fun.
One of those friends happened to be Thomas' mother, who brought the kindergarten teacher and her daughter along.
"My mom is friends with Kim and my daughter came through (the maze) this summer," Thomas said. "I thought it would be good for the class to go through, too."
The kids -- taking turns exploring the outdoor maze, as well as an indoor version set up in Hyde's garage in case of rain -- weren't the only ones having fun though.
"I really enjoy the kids," Hyde said, running from maze to maze and directing kids around the property.
"I belong in kindergarten myself."
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