Sheila Thurber has grown accustomed to frequent visits from the animals that live in the woods surrounding her home.
That’s one of the perks that comes with living in a rural town such as St. John Plantation, after all.
A skunk dropped by once, Thurber said. Deer sometimes show up. A black bear came in to check out the chickens (Note to bears: Don’t check out Sheila’s chickens. You don’t want to know what happens next). And Thurber often hears coyotes howling in the night.
But earlier this month, Thurber had a visitor she had to tell others about.
“We named her Georgette, just because we name animals that float around,” Thurber said.
Georgette is a moose.
And while moose often meander through her yard, few keep as regular a schedule as Georgette did.
“On Feb. 1, in the evening, something told me to look outside,” Thurber said. “So I opened my door. My cat was right there and she peeked around and she backed away. That usually tells me that she’s alerted to something.”
That something was Georgette, who was standing not far from the front door, next to a pickup truck.
Nothing unusual there. But Georgette wasn’t done.
“The next night she showed up again,” Thurber said. “And then, on the third day she came during the daylight hours. She was there in the morning, just like [she was] coming for coffee. And on the fourth day, it was the same thing.”
Georgette made herself right at home during her visits, spending one day nibbling on trees in the yard, and finding a new snow-covered spot to bed down each night.
The first night, she slept in the middle of a small flower garden. The second night, she opted for a spot between the house and a coal shed. On night three, she snoozed in Thurber’s herb garden.
Thurber said she didn’t want to scare the moose and didn’t approach it. She did, however, take some photos. In one, which Thurber shared in an e-mail, Georgette is barely two feet away from the front door, peering in the window.
Georgette also spent time peering in a bedroom window, Thurber said.
After her four-day visit, Georgette left, and Thurber hasn’t seen her since. She says she’s not sure why the moose decided to come back as frequently as she did.
“I have no idea, other than the fact that people say that this property is very calming and friendly,” Thurber said.
Apparently, one moose would agree with that assessment.
Derby set for Great Pond
People looking to spend some time outdoors and do so for a great cause may want to gather up their ice fishing gear and head to Great Pond in Aurora on Saturday.
Master Sgt. Charles Cole of the 101st Security Forces Squadron at the Maine Air National Guard base in Bangor says he and a few colleagues have teamed up to help organize an ice fishing derby that will benefit House in the Woods Military and Family Retreat.
“We’re putting on this ice fishing tournament to help raise money for [Paul House] to purchase a handicap-accessible boat or ATV,” Cole said.
House in the Woods offers free outdoor retreat programs for military veterans and their families.
Depending on the season, House in the Woods offers a number of recreational options from its headquarters in Lee.
The derby will run from sunrise to 3:30 p.m. at the former Dow Pines site on Great Pond. Tickets are $5, which includes entry in the derby and a chance in the raffle drawings. In addition, 50-50 raffle tickets will be sold.
Food also will be available.
Among the prizes up for grabs: an ice auger, a pack basket and traps, an electronic game call and more than $300 in gift cards.
“It’s going to be a pretty good event, we hope,” Cole said. “it’s open to the public, but we’re also expecting a pretty good percentage of military personnel and families coming out and taking part in this event.”
For more information, call Cole at 356-7937 or Adam Morrow at 659-1486.
Winter hike on tap
The Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition will hold a winter hike across three frozen ponds on Saturday.
Participants should bring their own showshoes or cross-country skis for the six-mile trek, which will traverse Sanborn, Ellis and Half Moon ponds.
Attendees also should bring their own lunches. The trip will take about five hours, but an additional excursion up Pond Hill will add another two hours for the hardiest hikers who want an added challenge.
Participants will meet at 10 a.m. at the Sanborn Pond boat launch on Route 137 in Brooks.