I am sitting here in my burgundy leather desk chair, elbow on the armrest, chin on fist, looking out the window at the first snowfall of 2011. My house is behind an island that has five oak trees and a lamppost on it, so my immediate view is of an all-white ground and street, except for the tracks of two cars — the paperman and a mom delivering her daughter to go sledding with the girls across the street —  and the tall barren trees.

I’m reminded of coloring books back in the 1950s, the cheap tablet paper and an outline of people or animals or scenes to color. A popular thing to do from time to time was to outline each part of an object with a different-colored crayon and then lightly fill in with that same red or blue or green. I remember bearing down hard to leave some waxy color against the black lines, just enough above each line to show up.

That’s exactly what the branches of the five oaks look like. Someone has taken a white Crayola and lined each one, white following the shape of each brown line, continuing on each connecting smaller branch, all the way up the tree.