New York City, June 1, 2014

★★★★★ The morning was not, factually speaking, bright enough to overcome sleep, though it ought to have been. Outside was mild everywhere, save only the toxic microclimate of a street fair, sun-baked and smoke-smothered. The nonfestive used-items vendors sat in their usual sidewalk spaces, now behind the backs of the booths, in individual envelopes of sound: Joan Jett, reggae. The two-year-old was in a dangerous frenzy in the grocery aisles. Taken to the plaza outside the apartment to burn it off, he sent a toy car pinwheeling over the bricks again and again, with some indistinguishable combination of enthusiasm and malice. At naptime, music–a PA system–carried over from who knows where and up 27 stories. Out on the street again, more music blasted from a passing car. Men at the street fair were taking the opportunity to walk around bare-chested, with their shirts in their hands. The playground was dappled and just short of delirium. A preschool classmate grabbed the two-year-old and went one way; a fellow first-grader grabbed the six-year-old and went the other way. The younger boys made a foray to the shady threshold of the women’s restroom, then decided to go play on the slides. The older ones settled into a sort of lopsided kickball game with a tennis ball. A heavy ball slammed into the far side of the chain link head-high; a sparrow came diving by at shoulder level; a little remote-controlled helicopter shot by at groin altitude, with a harsh insectoid chatter, and crashed into the near side of the fence. The tennis-kickball went rolling the wrong way and, with the shocking precision of dumb fate, intercepted the front end of a distant and perpendicularly moving scooter, stopping it dead, pitching the rider over the handlebars. The two-year-old got ahold of the ball and threw it away down the ramp to the school, where it went through a fence and out of reach. Back home, the sun reached into the kitchen to play on the steam coming off the saute pan while a batch of browned cauliflower finished up, after a long day in the slow cooker.