West Michigan Is Home to a Giant Lavender Labyrinth

Cherry Point Farm & Market
Cherry Point Farm & Market

If you’ve ever fantasized about wandering down an endless, winding road of sweet-smelling flowers, a farm on Lake Michigan can help make your dreams come true.

Cherry Point Farm and Market in Shelby, Michigan is home to a lot of fanciful (mostly edible) things, like cherries, pies, breads, jams, fudge, and even summer fish boils. The fruit and farm market has been in operation since 1961 and is currently run by the fourth generation of the founding family. As if a homegrown roadside cherry shop wasn't meditative enough, in 2001, owner Barbara Bull started work on a lavender labyrinth, which is now a popular attraction that’s large enough to be seen on Google Earth.

With the help of artist and architect Conrad Heiderer, Bull designed an asymmetrical flower maze with an herb garden at its center. It takes about an hour to walk to the center on one long, meandering route. "Walking into the labyrinth is only half the journey," Bull told MLive. "You need to walk out again."

While it might be too late for the primary flower season—the labyrinth’s French lavender peaks in the springtime—it continues to bloom throughout the summer, and then dries up at the end of fall when it’s collected. The space is also home to other seasonal flora like apple, peach, and cherry trees—which are ready for harvest in the autumn—and all kinds of plants that are endemic to the area, like black-eyed Susans and wild hollyhocks.

A journey into the labyrinth is free and doesn’t require reservations, so you can drop in and take a walk among the flowers anytime you like.

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Feeling Stressed? Playing Tetris Could Help Relieve Your Anxiety

iStock/Radachynskyi
iStock/Radachynskyi

When Nintendo released their handheld Game Boy system in the U.S. and Japan in 1989, the first game most users experimented with was Tetris. Bundled with the system, the clever puzzler—which prompts players to line up a descending array of tiles to create horizontal lines—was the video game equivalent of an addictive drug. Some players described seeing the shapes in their dreams. The game was in the hands of 35 million portable players; by 2010, it had sold 100 million smartphone downloads.

Now, there’s evidence that Tetris players may have a solution to anxiety in the palms of their hands. According to a paper published in the journal Emotion, Tetris has the capability to relieve stress and troubling thoughts by providing a form of distraction.

As part of a larger study about the benefits of distraction, researchers at the University of California, Riverside conducted an experiment on 309 college students who were told to expect some anxiety-provoking news: They were told someone would be offering an evaluation of their physical attractiveness. While they waited for their results, a third of the subjects played a slow-moving, beginner-level version of Tetris; another group played a high-speed variation; and a third played an adaptive version, which automatically adjusted the speed of the game based on the player’s abilities.

Tetris games that were too slow or too fast bored or frustrated players, respectively. But the game that provided a moderate challenge helped reduce the subjects’ perception of their stress levels. They reported a quarter-point higher level of positive emotions on a five-point scale and a half-point reduction of negative emotions. The students still worried about the results of the attractiveness evaluation, but they experienced fewer negative feelings about it.

The key, according to the study, is that the students were experiencing “flow,” a state of mind in which you’re so engrossed in an activity that you lose your sense of self-awareness. While Tetris may be one of the best ways to quickly fall into flow, anything that consumes your attention—playing music, drawing, cooking—is likely to work.

The next time you have to wait for potentially life-altering news, you may find that a Tetris session will help you cope.

[h/t NPR]

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