I’d like to nominate Mt. Wood as our new town symbol.
You say you’ve never heard of Mt. Wood? You know, it’s that immense, hulking mountain of firewood midway up Rt. 7 at Gregory Saw Mill, the one that’s so huge it casts a shadow reaching almost as far as the high school football field.
Everyone passes it almost every day, and it’s become such a familiar landmark on the Wilton landscape that I don’t really remember a time when the world’s largest wood pile wasn’t right there on Rt. 7.
There’s a clear reason I think it should be the new symbol of Wilton: It tells the story of what Wilton is today.
It’s a pile cut from local trees that have fallen in storms over the past two years—trees, as we’ve learned, that fall and create more chaos than we are prepared to handle. We’ve seen the town’s collective vulnerable underbelly of what it means to lose power and the anger that can be directed at those we blame when we feel it’s not handled properly—either our town leaders or CL&P.
It’s all thanks to those fallen trees.
And what of all that wood that waits to be burned in our fireplaces? How many of us really use that firewood out of necessity, in order to heat our homes? We’re a consuming community, burning the luxury of this commodity in our decorative hearths, the ones that were listed in multiples in those flowery real estate write-ups of the houses we bought. “Four wood-burning fpl…” or even better, “MBR w/fpl.”
Buying firewood is mostly a status thing these days, and it’s something right out of the pages of affluent Fairfield County. Wood seems pricey now, like every other commodity, despite how plentiful the fallen trees are. For a cord of seasoned firewood you can spend upwards of $200 plus delivery.
Our first year in our Wilton home, we had a tree guy take down a large dead ash tree behind our house. We laughed in amazement as my urban-but-able husband figured out how to split the pieces into logs. How proud and accomplished he was that he was able to cut enough wood to last us two seasons. We were fast becoming hardy New Englanders.
Wood is such a New England thing, isn’t it. It’s another reason Mt. Wood is such a suitable town icon. It’s rustic and historic, and just looking at a well-stacked wood pile makes you immediately associate it with character and significant roots. That wood pile has such strong architecture, I feel like it’s the emblem of everything Wilton wants to be—rooted in quaint, New England charm, without becoming a fast, sprawling overgrown metropolis. It’s anything but modern—wood says colonial without trying hard at all.
What’s also been fascinating about watching the wood pile grow enormous over the last year is actually acknowledging the two human beings who make it grow. Taber Gregory, the owner of the saw mill, estimated that there are likely 10,000 pieces of split wood making up that woodpile, each cut by hand. Gregory told me how it’s really been done almost entirely by the same two men, working every day, no matter the weather.
Hot, sweaty sun; cold, rainy fall days—whatever the temperature, I’ve seen them toiling endlessly, splitting, tossing, stacking. Now, as it’s the season for folks to buy firewood, they’ve added throwing, delivering and restacking to the list of back-breaking labor they do.
And it’s that final reason I think the pile is so emblematic of Wilton life. Acknowledging the role of the people who do the heavy lifting might be something worth pondering each trip up and down Rt. 7 past the pile.