We're emerging from a winter with a near-record snowfall in the Ottawa Valley. The snow began at the end of October and stayed. And although there is still plenty of snow on the ground around our house, winter's back is truly broken for another year. Days are longer and warmer, streams and rivers swollen. We're seeing birds in the yard that we haven't seen for months and the ducks and muskrat have reappeared in the creek that runs through the backyard.