Social distancing for us during COVID-19 hasn’t been too difficult. I work at my desk until around 10:30 a.m., and I have plenty of outdoor work to keep me busy.

I prefer critters for neighbors. Though I must admit an occasional woodpecker knocking on the side of the house is irritating. And I could do without squirrels scampering across our roof.

There seems to be a population explosion of rodents. A gopher colony surrounds our house and garage. The lawn is dotted with holes. And it’s impossible to keep rabbits, raccoons and deer out of our garden.

When I open the curtains in the morning, there are almost always deer looking in the windows. Nothing can stare like a deer. They seem to think our lawn belongs to them, since they’ve grown up around here.

For the last few years, a bullfrog has taken up residence in the daylilies beside the dog’s water bowl. When it rains, he likes to lounge on the sidewalk in the temporary river.

Three years ago, a painted turtle laid her eggs in our back yard where Stone Circle visitors park. I hung up a caution sign nailed to a sawhorse.

Nothing compares to an occasional sighting of a coyote or red fox. One coyote actually played tag with our dog back and forth across the lawn.After I called the dog to the porch, the coyote stood on the edge of the wild grass and barked at us.

The sandhill cranes are exquisite. And skunks aren’t so bad if you keep your distance. That goes for porcupines, too. Like the deer they’re drawn to the pear trees outside my writing room window.Porcupines have such gentle eyes.

The bird feeder is a source of endless entertainment. The feathered critters flitting from trees to seeds areas uplifting as Christmas ornaments.

Actually, we do have human neighbors that we enjoy and communicate with often. But their houses are at least 300 yards distant and hidden behind trees. We can’t even see their outdoor lights.

The hardest part of the pandemic is not being able to see our two granddaughters in Traverse City when they’re attending school. We also have four grandkids in Helena, Montana. We couldn’t fly out there last October. It has been almost two years since we’ve seen them. I’m sure a lot of families are experiencing this sadness.

The toxic political environment made dealing with the virus even harder. Stone Circle was canceled, so I didn’t have that outlet. But I did do some live streaming to keep my voice and memory in shape.

We’ve tried to stay busy, and writing for me has always been healing. I wrote a few poems that I’m proud of, and tried to stay upbeat. People were dealing with enough anxiety.

I took to writing haiku from early April to Thanksgiving. Many of them reflect the environment I share with the critters. I’d like to showcase a few this month.

For you that don’t know, a haiku is a three-line poem written in 17 syllables. The first line contains five syllables, the second line seven syllables, and the third line five.

You can cheat a little with a diphthong, which is basically a slippery syllable. Read each of these as a separate poem.

Poet Bard Terry Wooten has been performing and conducting writing workshops in schools for more than 30 years. He is also the creator of Stone Circle, a triple ring of boulders featuring poetry, storytelling and music on his property north of Elk Rapids. Learn more at

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