A female beaver looks out from her 50-gallon tub of water as park superintendent Curt Johnson feeds her a willow bough at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray at noon on Monday. The beaver came to the park last fall and is kept indoors over the winter. She does have access to the outside. 

Park superintendent Curt Johnson climbs back into the home of a female beaver after giving her a willow bough to eat at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray at noon on Monday. The beaver came to the park last fall and is kept indoors with a 50-gallon tub of water over the winter. 

Wild, wild life, Gray

The beaver started in as soon as she saw Curt Johnson.


It was noon, she was hungry and pleading her case from her winter digs, perched beside a 50-gallon tub of water inside a barn stall at the Maine Wildlife Park.


The park superintendent hadn’t brought the good stuff — he had a willow bough, the beaver equivalent of having to eat your vegetables, Johnson said — but it would do.

“She’ll chomp them off into smaller pieces, bring it into the water and she’ll be swimming while she (eats),” he said. “It’s almost like an ear of corn, she’ll just keep turning it. They’re so dexterous, it’s fun to watch them maneuver a piece of wood as they chew it.” 

The year-old beaver arrived at the park last fall. She’d been orphaned young and rescued and lost her fear of humans, Johnson said. She couldn’t be returned to the wild, so she found a home here.

It’s only the Maine Wildlife Park’s second beaver ever. (The first was on exhibit for a few months in 2015 but didn’t live very long. He believes it may have had medical issues.)

This beaver will be introduced soon to her spacious spring-summer-fall enclosure for the first time.

“We’re just so excited to see her out in there splashing around,” Johnson said. “She’s going to love it. She loves to interact. She’ll probably be up against the fence to visit with visitors and do her whining, her talking that she does. I think it’ll be a lot of fun for our visitors and engaging for her as well.”


The park’s set to open April 15, weather permitting.

— Kathryn Skelton

Somewhere there is a spider, hiding.

Arachnid awakening, Litchfield

It looked like nothing more than a tiny green dot dangling in the breeze above the snow.
But a closer look revealed the speck, hanging from the roof near my front door, had ever-so-tiny legs and a hint of a pattern on its dull emerald body.
At noon Monday, it wasn’t the first one I’d noticed swinging above the snow. Others had come and gone for a couple of days.
I never saw what happened to them. They were just there one minute, gone the next.
This little spider had lowered itself several feet from somewhere near the roofline on a single thin strand that I could barely make out thanks to the glare coming off all the snow piled around.
The little spider moved like a pendulum, lowering itself a little more as the breeze pushed it back and forth.
All of a sudden, it brushed up against the shingles of my cabin and vanished. I think it scurried beneath the wood, into one of the cracks between the planks.
With that, everything looked like winter again, just snow and ice under an astonishing blue sky.

But that little green spider is there, too, with others of its kind also hidden about, a sure sign that spring’s explosion of life is just around the corner, if not quite here yet.

— Steve Collins


Fielder’s Choice Ice Cream employee Haylee Chase chops peanut butter cups at noon Monday while she waits for the first customers of the day to arrive.

A sweet gig, Auburn

Spring arrived at Fielder’s Choice Ice Cream. The customers? Not so much.

At noon Monday, the shop floor was swept clean, the tables clear, the “open” flag out front flapped in the breeze. But the place was deserted except for manager Taylor Milliken and employee Haylee Chase. On weekdays this time of year, ice cream fans don’t tend to start flooding the place until around 2 p.m., when school gets out.

So behind the counter, as “The Star-Spangled Banner” played over the loudspeaker, Milliken handled inventory ordering — “Just making sure we’re stocked and ready for the rush of people,” he said — while Chase cut up strawberries and peanut butter cups.

Chopping toppings and handing out coffee Oreo ice cream is a part-time job for Chase, an 18-year-old senior at Edward Little High School. She’s been at the Auburn shop since it opened in the fall.


She’s worked at a couple of places. She calls this one her “fun job.”

Her favorite part: “When you hand people their ice cream and they say ‘Holy moly,’ because of how big it is.”

— Lindsay Tice

Snow melts around the Livermore Falls Gazebo bringing hope that musicians will be taking the stage to perform soon.

Gazebo snowmelt, Livermore Falls

A gentle breeze blew the ribbons on the kissing balls hanging at the Livermore Falls Gazebo as the bell above the Bank Building began to ring, signaling it was noon.


Snow covered the ramp and stairs of the gazebo but the dark green and white railings were visible at its entrance. The deck of the gazebo was nearly clear of snow. 

Snowbanks in the parking lot melted under the bright sun of the 44-degree day.

It gave hope that musicians will soon return to perform concerts on the stage.

It was quiet, except for the occasional sound of traffic on Route 4, Main and Depot streets. Even the Androscoggin River seemed to be silent.

A snowblower sat idle near the sidewalk of the Town Office, its operator not in sight.

A UPS truck pulled up to the side of Water Street and parked, not far from the gazebo. The driver went into the back of the truck and emerged carrying packages. He stepped down to the pavement and walked toward the rear of the Bank Building.


At the same time, a few women came out of the building on the far end and walked toward the parking lot.

— Donna Perry

The Androscoggin River in Durham on Monday showed little signs of snow or ice leftr from a long winter. 

Ice-free river, Auburn

If you’re looking for signs of spring, look no further than the Androscoggin River.

I’ve had a pretty good seat for watching the movement of the river throughout the long Maine winter — a twice-daily drive on Route 136 that winds along the water between Auburn and Durham.


There were weeks that it appeared completely still, only rivulets of movement through small holes in the ice, or after a snowstorm when the white blocks joined together for the push downriver. But on Monday, the water was free of frozen debris, giving way to a crisp blue reflection of the clear sky above.

I know, I’m supposed to be keeping my eyes on the road in front of me, but the condition of the river was hard to ignore Monday.

Let’s hope it stays that way, but I don’t suggest swimming just yet. 

— Andrew Rice 

Destiny Marchesano, left, a pre-kindergarten pupil at W.G. Mallett School in Farmington, gets help with building a snow castle from Lauren Wheelock, an intern from the University of Maine at Farmington.

Playground frolicking, Farmington


Bright sun, blue skies and warmth greeted youngsters ready for a noontime break at W.G. Mallett School.

A snow-covered playground could not dampen the boisterous spirits as the kindergarten and first-grade pupils expended their extra energy by running and chasing each other.

A pre-school student, Destiny Marchesano, with help from Lauren Wheelock, a University of Maine at Farmington intern, began a snow castle. They filled small toy buckets with snow instead of sand. When overturned, the snow in the bucket created a well-shaped mound.  

Wheelock encouraged Marchesano to keep building.

The bells at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church rang out the noon hour as a chorus of young voices shouted in glee. They were free to run, jump, slide and play on the mounds of snow. 

The bells were followed by a musical selection as the carillon at Henderson Memorial Baptist Church was carried by a soft breeze.


Snowbanks were melting causing rivulets of water along the paved areas of the school yard. A young girl avoided the water to show her friends how she could do a cartwheel.  

A bright green ball rolled across the yard, forgotten for the moment as a variety of playground equipment drew more attention.

Two planes soared across the cloudless sky leaving a white trail of exhaust.

— Ann Bryant

A three-day old Pinzgauer calf rests in the sun at Black Acres Farm in Wilton.

Young pigs snooze in the sun at Black Acres Farm in Wilton on Monday.


Baby farm animals, Wilton 

Along the road to the barn at Black Acres Farm, a bright midday sun has created mud puddles as the tall snowbanks melt.

A white goose takes a sip and a quick bath before noticing an intruder. It honks repeatedly in warning as it joins three other geese.

Two border collies run out to greet the newcomer. Jack, the straight-haired one, pushes a clump of frozen manure in hopes it will be tossed or kicked for him to fetch.

A white horse sticks its head through the slats as owner Russell Black makes his way to an enclosure with four-week-old piglets. He dumps grain into the pen and the piglets eagerly bolt down the pellets. They scramble over and around one another, squealing intermittently as they look for more.

In another pen are several three- to four-month old piglets. Some root through the straw bedding looking for a surprise treat. Others sprawl out and snooze while basking in the bright sunlight.


Nearby is a herd of beef cattle. Three baby calves, two born on St. Patrick’sDay, are with them.

Most of the cows are gathered around a large metal hay rack. A few are lying down on the snow-covered ground. The cold doesn’t seem to bother them as they calmly chew their cuds.

A Pinzgauer cow stands guard over her brown calf as it rests near a hay rack. Nearby, a black Angus calf watches for a bit, then races around through the snow.

— Pam Harnden

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