It was about the time the first poplar leaves turn yellow. The cottonmouth, thick as a muscular arm, slid into the water at my feet. The marsh burst into autumn. Motionless in the rushes, a mother doe and her fawn stared at me, necks slender, eyes intent. Your heart would have overflowed. The beaver arched its glossy fan of a tail in the far shallows. I looked in vain for its mate as it disappeared, wild and beautiful, into the black water, out of reach.