New York City, February 6, 2014

★★ Frozen staleness, made interesting only by its treachery. A long coffee stain stretched across the top of a snowbank. Drips from an idling cement mixer had cut a hole in the ice and washed clean one small spot of the white crosswalk marking. Sixty-sixth Street was still full of grainy brown slush. Downtown at the curbsides, the slush had refrozen, the transitory deep ruts and footprints now locked in stony hardness. The treads of the fire escape were paved with slippery humps of hard ice. An airplane was passing in the daffodil-colored light, and the view from the roof was probably beautiful, if there had been a way to get up to the roof. The evening streets were slick in the most innocuous-looking stretches. Up on Broadway, the used book guy cried out and hacked at the ice pack with the side of a shovel, swinging it in big overhead strokes, with a new cry each time the blade came down.