★★★★★ “Clouds,” the two-year-old said, riding nowhere in particular on adult shoulders. “Sky, sky, sky. Blue sky, blue sky, blue sky.” The water in the fountain had gone from chemical blue-green to algal olive-green, with an accompanying algal odor. Loose-edged clouds covered and uncovered the sun. A lean black pigeon walked by on the bricks, its feet pink and claws black. The two-year-old wanted to go to the playground; the seven-year-old wanted to stay put. The compromise was Lincoln Center. Flatware clinked on dishes in the shade of the restaurant on the north edge, under the grass roof. The surface of the black reflecting pool was only a tiny bit ruffled, the wished-on coins at the bottom still distinct dots. The two-year-old peeled off his shoes and socks and went up the grassy steps, charging back and forth along the tipped and elevated lawn. It was a little bit hot out in the openness of it, and all but empty at midday. The grass had a white shine on it, and a chartreuse glow of new growth. Really the children should have been eating lunch already, but the day could not be ignored. The two-year-old scampered down the steps and went running on the plaza, feet slapping the hard surface. Coaxed back into shoes, he made for the artificial grove across the way, the evenly spaced sycamores and sandy gravel, and went scuffling through the heart of it. The shade was narcotic, stunning. People sat in chairs all around the perimeter, to see the sun without being out in it. Lunch would be late, naptime even later, the whole schedule coming off the spool. When the younger child was finally awake again, it was almost time to start cooking dinner, or to abandon the notion of cooking dinner and to get back out into the late day. Off to the playground, then, both children speeding ahead on scooters, the younger curling his back foot up flamingo-wise in ostentatious self-confidence. Later, he would experimentally let go of a swing at the top of its arc, to wrap up the day with a fat lip. Excessive possibilities. A small tree under the big trees caught its own portion of sunlight. The clouds had abandoned the sky. Even waiting indoors for takeout was too much. Better to take a slow walk around the next two blocks. A cool wind eased its way up the avenue. Everyone’s hair looked fantastic, alive with subtle textures and shadings. The bricks looked good; the stains and grime on the bricks looked good. The bronze-toned facade of the old OTB parlor, now given over to yoga and herbs, gleamed richly. Even the dull red paint, slathered several stories up to further blank out a blank brick wall, was vibrant, each little broken peeling patch a point of interest. Nothing was gilded or honeyed yet, in the long end of daytime, just each thing saturated with the colors all its own.