My house sits on a small acreage looking north across the Lower Fraser valley to the Coast mountains. Its south windows are shaded by a row of 70ft. vine maples. These keep the yard cool in summer, indenture us to leaf raking in the fall, admit the pale winter light, and signal the transition to spring. A scrubby English Hawthorn crowds the north deck. This amazing overgrown bush is a favourite stop-over for hundreds of small birds on their southward migratory path at summer's end. In a week the tree is stripped of all its seedy berries, and then suddenly the little birds are gone. The crows they chase away all summer return and take over the space for the winter.

This picture was taken one day after the winter solstice at first light. There was new snow on the mountains. The air was clear and cool. The dawn chorus had begun. It's my favourite part of the day.