I will start with a glimpse of the world through our bedroom window one cold January morning. The colors were soft on the horizon and all was calm. A few days before Ptarmigan were flying back and forth across the river, to and from these willows. In about four months from now, those bare branches will start to bud and, with a little bit of sunshine, our world will turn to shades of green.
FYI: The Ptarmigan (the 'P' is silent) is the Alaskan state bird. They are similar to the quail I remember as a kid. They change colors during the year and are white with black markings in the winter. In the summer they are darker all over so they can hide.