Many people claim they get lost in their work, but Brett Herbst really means it.

Herbst, 33, designs corn mazes, those elaborate small-farm attractions that for many have become as much a fall ritual as candy corn and apple cider.

His Utah-based business, the Maize, is the world's biggest corn maze consulting company. He has designed more than 150 corn mazes, including three in Virginia.

Herbst said agriculture is his passion, as well as the foundation of his business. He grew up on a farm in Salmon, Idaho, and has a bachelor's degree in agribusiness from Brigham Young University.

The design side of the business was much tougher for him, but he quickly got the hang of it. "It was mostly trial and error," he said.

His first labyrinth, in 1996, took him three weeks to create. Now he can knock a maze out in a day.

The work is seasonal, with the off-season devoted mostly to brainstorming design ideas and scouting for sites.

As his consulting business has grown, Herbst continues to run his flagship maze in Utah. He still delights in the reactions of the thousands of visitors that maze attracts each year.

"You can tell a lot about someone by the look on their face when they walk out," he said.

Great. Something else to puzzle about, even if we make it through in a respectable time.

-- Mary Ellen Slayter

A maze created in the likeness of John Wayne, done in Knoxville, Iowa, in fall 2002.