★★★★ Haze stained the horizon. A man in a sportshirt sat on a bench with a newspaper in his lap, chin on his chest, apparently dozing. The garbage smell of Prince Street was stronger than ever. Storms were closing in, but as thunder rumbled in the late-afternoon, the menace still seemed theoretical. The west was gray, the east blue, the sky in between unsettled. By Columbus Circle, the light coming down the station stairs was dusk-blue, two and a half hours early. At 72nd Street, it was dark and raining hard, but not too hard to walk through without an umbrella. A pedestrian went sprinting across oncoming traffic, unnecessarily unwilling to wait for the signal. The rain abated to scattered drops, just long enough for the walk home from the store, then came splashing down harder than before. Whitish clouds were moving underneath the inky ones. Lighting flashed again and again. The seven-year-old, counting the interval between light and sound, estimated it was a fifth of a mile off. The show continued all through dinner: starkly defined lightning bolts, an amplified snare-drum roll of thunder, the downpour in the dark. And then, from behind the silhouetted apartment towers, a fiery yellow glow appeared. It spread up the western sky, dispelling the premature night, a sunrise in reverse. Photographs of the sky's colors are always disappointing and inaccurate, and there was no sense even trying now. Everything was in that lambent, elusive register. The lemon yellow went to an orange-chased purple, through improbable intermediate stages, as it gradually stopped spreading. Time flowed its usual way again; the bright fraction of the sky got smaller and more intensely orange. Still there were white slashes of lightning above it.
Thursday, July 3rd, 2014