Open Doors Of Maine

text by Jonathan Ives

Last Saturday I drove down to Round Pond to meet up with my best friend Adam. He’s getting married in two weeks and a group of close friends decided to have his bachelor party out on an island in Muscongus Bay. We all grew up in the area and felt refreshed to be back on the shore again. I unloaded all the gear we needed on the town dock — tents, water, food, fireworks, and a cooler of beer that weighed over two hundred pounds — all the equipment six old friends need to remember the good old days before releasing one of their own into the world as a married man.

My friend Sam moved out of state after college and was back for a week or two to enjoy Maine during its most popular months. He rode with me to the overnight parking area in Round Pond and helped carry the last of our gear down to the dock. With my hands around a large box of firewood and kindling, I started off. Sam called out, “Want me to lock your car up?” I thought for a second or two and replied, “Don’t worry about it, buddy. This is Maine.” He just smiled and shut the door with a slam.

I grew up in a house in Pemaquid that only had one lock on one door and it was the bathroom door. I’ve owned a car for eighteen years and I never lock it unless I’m out of state. I’ve never had one thing stolen. You might say I’m lucky, and I know I am. I live in a place where people are honest and have integrity. In a small town most people respect their neighbors because they have to look them in the eye day after day, for years to come. It’s easier to steal from someone you don’t know.

Just outside the harbor hundreds of multicolored pot buoys are scattered to the horizon. At the bottom of each one is a lobster trap with the doors unlocked. Anyone could sail, row, or motor up to them, pull up a trap and take out free lobster, yet each one remains untouched but for the rightful owner. There aren’t police or patrol officers that keep people from stealing out here on the ocean. In a small community you have no other choice but to trust your neighbors to do the right thing because they expect the same. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

As we boarded our boat loaded down with supplies I looked back at my car, unlocked but still protected by a sense of trust as old as the very communities we live in here on the coast of Maine. If someone takes something out of my car they must need it more than I do, and we both must deal with the ramifications. If I choose to lock the door I take away their chance to do the right thing. I can buy more stuff, but I can’t buy a new way of life.