As we enter the park to camp, a new sign greets us on one of the established sign posts: Firewood Collection is Prohibited.
“Hmmm. That’s a change,” I comment to my camping companion and in-house collector of dried twigs, sticks and ‘repurposer’ of downed branches.
“Yes, a big change,” comes the reply—with more emotion behind it than one would think four words could hold.
“I wouldn’t take it personally,” I add. “Something must have happened. Someone must have been irresponsible.”
Normally, when we go camping, we go off-season, enjoying a quiet park mostly to ourselves with the exception of a few year-round employees and a handful of fellow committed nature-lovers. Generally, we choose camping sites that are more remote, collecting refuse—fishing line, cans, bobbers, packaging, etc.—in a trash bag we have brought from home. While collecting trash, we also pick up dried and downed twigs and branches to supplement our own supply of kindling. (Park staff have commented in the past that we usually leave a site “cleaner” than we found it. Thus, our relationship with staff has been mutually respectful.)
On the second morning of our current stay, one of the park staff stops by and confirms that there has indeed been an incident causing the posting of the new signage. Two living trees were felled and killed by someone wielding an axe, who then proceeded to try and burn green wood in a fire pit.
“Who tries to burn just-cut, green wood in a fire?” my camping companion turns to ask me in disbelief, after the ranger has gone.
“Someone who is really out to lunch—out of touch and profoundly disconnected from the natural world,” I commiserate by stating the obvious. “I have met people who do not realize that their paper bags come from trees and that plastic bags require an oil well.” And, then in a moment of frustrated steam release and in an effort to find some humor in the human condition, I ask “Didn’t you know that fruits and vegetables come from a grocery store?”
We are part of a beautiful, natural web—a web of both visible and invisible ‘matter’ that needs to be honored. Share what you have. Consume only what you need.