[A note to educators on this list... last week I mailed the last of the monarch butterfly metamorphosis images out. If you requested the images and have not gotten them by now please let me know. I included a short article that I wrote on the metamorphosis, that explains what is happening in the images. You can also find the article on line at http://www.natureofthewild.com/articles/Monarch/Monarch.html if you have any questions please let me know. In a few weeks I'll send out some other images that might help younger kids with counting... ]

To me fall is the most beautiful time of the year. Spring has rebirth and wild flowers, but colors come in waves stretched out over time and in isolated spots. Only fall can absolutely transform the entire landscape, awash in brilliant color.

A couple of days ago I walked the land across hillsides, down ravines, through streams and out in the fields along the woods. Everywhere I looked the scene was ablaze in the colors of  fall. I thought to myself that if this was the most beautiful season of the year then perhaps today was actually the most beautiful day in the entire year!

I've now had that thought five days in a row. What an incredible time to be outside, to have your senses almost overwhelmed by the season. The crisp smell and taste of change in the air, the sounds of rustling leaves, the gentle kiss of the wind on your face, and all the light streaming through the leaves; it is all out there, just waiting for you to take it in. I hope that you head out and do exactly that.

I rarely do any photography in the middle of the day, but last week we had several rainy, overcast days and I headed out in one of them when the rain stopped and the sky started clearing up. I went out to a pond that I have an ongoing project on. When I got there could see something moving through the water. There was not one, not two, but three otters out on the water. I was really excited.

Otters are about the most fun animal in the world. They just love to play. A friend of mine pointed out last week that the amount of play an animal takes part in is directly related to their intelligence. Decades ago I was able to watch some otters sliding down a hill into water, and then getting out and doing it all over again... not much different than children sledding down a hill. I think that otters must have invented amusement parks.

The otters were too far out to get good photographs of, but it is my hope to return in a couple of weeks and find them again. That would be so much fun!

Charles St. Charles

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