Living at the lake during our retirement years is just another day in paradise. We share paradise with critters of all shapes and sizes. We invaded their territory and now we have to get used to sharing the lakes and forests with them. But I wish they would be considerate of humans even though all God’s critters have a place in the choir.

It all began when we moved up to Cass County over seven years ago. There is an abundance of squirrels – gray, black, red and flying squirrels. We soon discovered that the cute red squirrel is a little demon. They moved into our house before we did by chewing through the vents on the roof and made their home up in the attic space. It cost us nearly $600 to have the damage repaired by replacing the chewed up plastic netting with a steel mesh.

Since that time, we try to keep the population of red squirrels down by trapping them with a live trap. We take the little critters at least five miles away to let them go and hope they won’t return to our property.

There are deer everywhere year around, except during hunting season. It seems like they pack their bags and leave town, and then return the day after hunting season ends. We’ve kept an area body shop in business through the past years that included a deer who ran into our passenger door.

The deer love hostas and many other plants. I’ve used every smelly liquid repellent along with granular types. In past years, the beautiful critters have left my plants alone until later August or September. But this year, they devoured my various hostas and plants before they even bloomed! They have never eaten my Joe Pye weed or astilbes, perennial plants that deer aren’t supposed to like. But those plants were gorged on, too. There is no rainbow of colors in any of the gardens this year! What to do, what to do . . .

And then there are the wild turkeys. They, too, are everywhere! If driving, you have to stop for them and wait until they move off the road. They are in no hurry! Earlier this summer, I came upon a large flock of the native birds. There had to be at least 40, of which the majority were poults (chicks). I grabbed my phone in hopes of taking a picture, but they flew up into the trees, including the adult turkeys, who slowly and clumsily made their way into the tree tops.

Since living in the northern sticks, I’ve seen a wolf walking down the center of the highway or cross in front of me. We hear coyotes singing during the night, and we had a raccoon walk across our deck midday.

But the largest critter that is seen more often than ever before is the black bear. It destroys birdfeeders and ransacks garbage cans.

In July, a huge bear walked through our yard, just a few feet from the living room window at 1:30 in the afternoon. I wish they would take their strolls during the night, not in the middle of the day when people are outdoors enjoying the summer season.

I woke up one morning during the week of 4th of July to find a large black clump on our deck, one foot in front of the patio door. Announcing that some creature left its mark on our deck, a house guest quickly determined it was the feces of a bear, and it was filled with berries. My daughter quickly googled “bear poop,” and, yes, the clump resembled the photos on her phone. A few days later, a similar but smaller clump was deposited on the deck. Forgetting to clean it up, it was gone the next morning and probably was devoured by another critter. Protein?

Granted, all God’s critters/creatures have a place in the choir, but perhaps there should be more choirs?