In the midst of the downpour in Acadia National Park, we passed the firewood stand. Like many campgrounds throughout the United States, Maine frowns on bringing outside firewood, along with its possible insects, into neighboring states. Invasive species can be found everywhere, and efforts to keep every non-native plants, bugs, fish, crustaceans, and creatures on their own turf struggle. Quite frankly, I don’t want to haul firewood from place to place anyway, but I also prefer to skip campfires altogether so I don’t have to pack water, buckets, shovels, sand, or a myriad of other camping accoutrements. I like when others burn them, though, so I can enjoy the smoky aroma and the pop and glow that tingle my other senses.
My son and I start our Sunday morning, not in a campground, but in a hotel room. The night previous we ascended Cadillac Mountain then ate lobster – a very Maine outing. Today we are hiking to the lighthouse and hitting the visitor center. One thing not on our itinerary is building a campfire. Nonetheless, I wish I pulled over to the firewood stand to soak in the smell of damp pine, and be soaked in the downpour. I wasn’t in need of wood, wet or dry, but this little stop, with its hand-painted sign and cozy, cloaked-in-Mount-Desert-Island appeal, deserved more than a drive-by. With no attendant, no one can collect the money for firewood, even if I wanted to make a purchase. And this absence captures the charm of this location that I wish I captured photographically.
I recall the drive south of Devil’s Tower and the roadside shop (See Honey from August 2014). The honor system allows me to drive off with a jar of sweetness courtesy of the Wyoming honeybees. When I passed the wooden box on the roadside, it reminded me of the firewood stand at Acadia. Both locations allow individuals to get needed products in a self-service setting. Leave the money, and don’t worry, no one will take it. Grab a honey-based recipe along with the smooth sweetener. Take a small, pre-tied bundle and you can plan for an evening of s’mores and smoke. You’ll have a hot fire tent-side tonight, assuming, of course, the rain relents.
The concept of being able to transact with a drop box, or an iron ranger, or a coffee can, or an old cookie tin amuses me. It reminds me of my earliest childhood when a total stranger would leave jars of milk in the wooden box by our front door. Life often leaves us unable to trust others. We lock our doors and roll up our windows. We take our baggage into the airport restroom stall as we are warned not to leave our belongings unattended. But then here, on a rainy Sunday on the eastern edge of the country, money is exchanged without a second party on hand – without a second pair of hands to load the exact number of bundles purchased. Some places are still safe, and trustworthy, and unattended and acceptable. I want to buy the wood, damp or dry, needed or not, simply to be a part of this truthful exchange.