★★★★★ Manhattan receded in shades of blue, like a mountain range. Building windows flashed in the sun to the west of the train, while the east lay in haze. Thin clouds and clear sky bled together, borderless. Faint dampness and a faint chill hung on the morning suburban streets. It was fine for walking. Good for walking. Old leaves lay matted down by the curb, and a stray plastic Easter egg, battered and grimy, presumably forgotten in someone's shrubbery till a rake had found it. The light was brighter on the white pillars of the temple on the way out than it had been on the way in. Roofers hammered away on up one of the houses, crawling over bare rafters, the only sign of what it took to keep everything trim and fresh-painted and gracious. Sun, chalky but strong, silvered the grass in the park overlooking the water and raised the grain of the slippery ancient rocks underfoot. It was warm now, where the light fell. Now and then another handsome dog would stroll through the scattered clusters of people in their dark dress-up clothes. A Newfoundland wore a terrycloth bib to catch its drool. A stone seat, inscribed with a 9/11 memorial message, was too chilly to sit on in suit pants. The wind picked up and the sun went behind a cloud, breaking the gentle calm. From a car, coming back down the BQE, the approaching city was first a pale set of cutouts, ideal shapes out of reach. Then the gold tower tops gleamed, and it all achieved solidity again. The sky was clear over Brooklyn. Stepping off a curb, toward the inbound subway, brought a sudden cool shock to the foot, as if stepping in a puddle. The black dress shoe, after more than a decade of serious duty, of job interviews and serious reporting and memorials, had at last come apart under the strain.
Wednesday, December 4th, 2013