My first wild otter encounter:
I was 6 years old, visiting a family friend in Cornwall. She lived right on a river bank, with big french windows that opened onto the dock. The other side of the river was dense, wild forest.
One morning, I woke up very early, before anyone else was awake. I crept downstairs quietly so I didn't wake anyone, and I lay down by the windows to watch the river as the day was dawning.
After some time enjoying the peaceful riverside dawn, I noticed a flash of brown bobbing in the water. At first I thought it was a log, but as I watched it moved closer and closer to me. As it approached my bank of the river I realised it was the head of an otter!
The otter bobbed its way through the water all the way to my side, and climbed out of onto the dock just a few feet from where I lay.
I was so excited to be this close to an otter that I almost called out to wake my Mum and our friends, but I didn't want to scare the otter away so I stayed perfectly still and silent. I watched in awe as the otter came towards me on its way along the dock. It walked right past me, just 6 inches from my face on the other side of the glass. I held my breath, hoping it wouldn't notice me and run away.
But the otter carried right on past me, down to where kids had been crabfishing from the dock the previous day. I guess they'd left some crabs in a bucket maybe, because otter seemed to find itself some tasty, crunchy snacks. After satisfying its appetite, or maybe exhausting the free food supply, otter came back along the dock, this time passing even closer, swishing its sleek fur against the glass. Then splash into the water, and the glossy brown head dipping away from me in the clear dawn light. Back towards those mysterious, wild woods, where I lost sight of it.
I've never forgotten the window into wonder that otter gave me. The spaciousness and clarity of the morning. The rhythm of life splashing onward in its beautiful, endless way. The harmony of all that is. The silent symphony of bliss that is our planet, at peace.