As you drive down Chestnut Ridge, heading towards Redding, if you happen to glance to the left just as you pass the last house in Bethel, you may well wonder about the winding wall of wood, so neatly stacked, so purposely placed.
The wall runs the length of the property of 236 Chestnut Ridge, where Terry Meehan, 57, has lived for 27 years. He bought a house described as surrounded by woods, and has meticulously maintained the tree and stone filled yard over time. In the spring, perennials now sprout from rock beds, and he says there is no better place to watch a sunset than atop the boulders in his front yard.
The wall of wood is a byproduct of last fall's unpredictable weather. “The truckers would come by and drop off wood as they were cleaning up after the storms,” Terry Meehan said with a smile.
Two years ago, he built a short decorative stack of wood, which was used for firewood. “Last June, the wood was all gone, then in August '11, it started coming in again,” he said.
At first, the wood served a purpose. Describing the original shorter wall, he said, “You know, firewood has to cure for at least a year, so I just stacked it there. Then I used it and gave some away to my neighbors.”
But when the storms hit, Meehan welcomed the wood from the downed trees and pretty soon, truckers were stopping by on a regular basis. Before too long, the wall extended along the length of his property and doubled back. Meehan now parks his truck in his new log lined driveway. There is even a room or two up towards the back. “It's my man cave. I have chairs and a fire pit up towards the back.” Meehan grinned.
Meehan appears to be in heaven with his new project. He has built an elegant entryway around an old wagon wheel, and stacked logs in various ways to highlight their textures. “My wife says I'm crazy, but it keeps me busy,” he said, adding, “I also built stone walls, too. I have always loved stones.”
The trees growing on the property are safe, though. Meehan said he rarely cuts a tree down, and many of them are currently being tapped for maple syrup. “So far, I got 230 gallons this season. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. When the day is warm, the sap rises, and when it gets cold again, it comes back down. That's when it runs through the taps.”
Meehan said he has learned a lot about trees over the years, and pointed to one in particular. “You see that one over there? That's a black birch, very different from the white birches you see. The syrup from that one has a spearmint taste.”
“I have a lot of respect for trees and I don't trow anything away,” he said. “It is all put to some use, just like the stones I found on the property that I used for walls. They have always been my passion.”
When his children were younger, Meehan coached in Bethel Little Leagues and did all of things parents do. But he said when his children grew up, he needed a new direction. “You find things to do, once the kids go their way,” he said.
Meehan has worked at the Wilton Village Market for close to 30 years, and manager Nancy Dolnier said that Meehan is a pleasure to work with. “He is just as passionate about his work. He is passionate about everything he does.”