★★★★ From shore to shore, no part of the Hudson was free of floating ice. The slush by the curbs was the consistency of sugar creamed with butter, the fluffy beginnings of some horrid cookie recipe. The stroller wheels threw off flecks of it yards and yards after the gutter crossing. When the toddler finally conceded to the cold and asked for the stroller cover, the clear sheet plastic was creaky and stiff. The ice floes down by the river's edge were locked into place like sutured skull bones. Liquid water peeped through in a few places, but where the ice sheets had broken on the rocks, the water liberated beneath them had come up to freeze into a solid glaze on the stone. Maybe a dozen blocks to the south, above the buildings in the clear sky, a huge dark bird was circling. As it turned, its tail flared white in the sun. What other than a bald eagle would look like that, a half mile off? The shape dropped to the west in a long gliding dive, crossing the entire river without flapping once, till it was lost in the clutter of trees and buildings in New Jersey. A few ordinary white gulls flew by, demonstrating that the other flying form could not possibly have been one of theirs. An unmoving, glinting surface stretched far past the end of the pier; the day-faded setting moon overlooked a jagged lunar landscape, like the gibbous earth of astronaut photos. Where the river was still moving, sharp pieces of ice pointed upward as they rode downstream. The steep bank above the Children's Lawn was worn by sliding trails till the grass showed through.
Friday, January 24th, 2014