Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pie on the Honor System

Enjoying Fall

It was a beautiful but windy fall day here in Maine. The temps were in the low 50s and high 40s, a perfect day for a trip to the country. In Maine, you soon realize that one day it can be sunny, the next miserable. This is not California. When the weather is good, it's time to make hay. The only thing that is certain, is the uncertainty of the weather. 

I've noticed that fall tends to make people anxious, especially in New England. We know that just around the corner is winter.  As each day inches closer toward winter, the anxiety increases, and Mainers take every opportunity to make use of the last vestiges of summer.   

Today, I decided to visit the town of Bethel in western Maine.  Located at the foot of the White Mountains, Bethel has been described by Downeast Magazine as the "best" Maine mountain town to relax.  I'm always leery of the "best."  What does the "best" restaurant, the "best" movie, or the "best" anything mean?  In any case, I've always thought the journey is more interesting than the destination.  If Bethel turned out to be a bust then at least I could enjoy the countryside.  

Puzzle Mountain Bakery

Bethel was worth the trip, but more about that in a future post. The highlight of the excursion was a visit to the Puzzle Mountain Bakery, near Newry (pop. 344) off of Bear River Road.  I had heard their fruit pies were good; and as my friends know, my sweet tooth never turns down a good pie.  What I found at Puzzle Mountain was something of a surprise, even for this old cynic and curmudgeon.

Puzzle Mountain Bakery isn't so much a traditional bakery, but rather a small wooden stand at the side of the road.  There isn't anything particularly unusual about what they sell: home made fruit pies, preserves, and cookies.  

Put Money in Box
As we drove up, I noticed there was no one manning the stand. Not a person in sight. The goods were on the shelf with the prices clearly labeled. A sign was posted telling people to pay for the goods by putting the money in a lock box. You pay on the honor system.  It's like that in rural Maine. People still trust!  It was refreshing, but I wondered how many people took a pie without paying. Nevertheless, I got and PAID for two pies, which turned out to be delicious.  I would mention, however, that the lock box was securely fastened by a big lock. I guess trust only goes so far.   

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