Thursday, April 24th, 2014
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New York City, April 23, 2014

★★ The woman on Broadway, pushing a stroller, wore an above-the-knee white eyelet dress. Over that, she was wearing a leather jacket and a scarf.

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New York City, April 22, 2014

★★★ The eastern sky above the buildings was blinding with cloud-scattered light. The barbershop door stood open; a man walked by outside trundling a cartload of catering food. Pink and white petals had fallen to the ground and were being trampled into brown smears. People stepped back in the reclaimed pedestrian zone to shoot photos of the Flatiron Building. The breeze was cool on the newly exposed ears. The clouds began to dim the sun appreciably. By afternoon's end, a shower had dampened everything. The air by the churchyard on Prince Street smelled like wet stones. Further on, the smell was wet metal, then wet grime. Even as the pavement was [...]

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New York City, April 21, 2014

★★★★ Light slammed into the little plaza beside the apartment tower, beyond the riotously multicolored tulips. "A little too bright," the six-year-old said. The public was using the seating out there, just off the cross street. The sun got in among the crenellations of a midblock building, pulling the eye up to the previously unnoticed battlements. Down in the subway the trackbed was illuminated, both by direct sunbeams and by an indirect blue glow. A man on a downtown bench balanced two plates of baked goods in one hand, while in the other hand his foamy specialty drink tilted up toward the edge of its wide-mouthed cup. Caught between the warm [...]

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New York City, April 20, 2014

★★★★ The turf in the churchyard and the bare trampled ground were just damp enough to be forgiving underfoot, without being muddy. The children exhausted the easiest eggs, then the more hidden ones, and then began to form designs on the daffodils. Long after every other child had given up and ceded the ground to a gleaming starling and a sparrow, the two-year-old was charging back and forth. Occasionally he stumbled over his basket and got up again. The afternoon temperature felt no warmer than midday, and it was chillier toward the river. The new leaves had a shine to them. On the sidewalk of 70th Street, two full carcasses of [...]

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New York City, April 16, 2014

★★ Thin new snow clung to the walkway that led from the construction elevator to the top of the tower, and coated the cars down below. In the cross-street shade, some of the windshield ice lasted into midday. A few daffodils were out in the sidewalk planters, and they seemed to be flinching. A bus lumbered right into a curbside puddle, splashing a stroller. A track fire at Columbus Circle had stopped the 1 trains, but the sun up Broadway, on the forced walk, couldn't help but feel warm. It was no substitute for a genuinely pleasant spring day, though, with more than half of April gone. The afternoon light glowed prettily [...]

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New York City, April 15, 2014

★ There had been, at bedtime, one bright planet or star in the sky, but when the alarm went off before 3 a.m., all there was to be seen in the west was the quotidian rust-red glow of city lights off the cloud cover. Little lighter-orange bits of cloud blew along under the main mass. Could the moon, entering its eclipse, still possibly be discernible, maybe off behind a building? It was not worth going out into the dark to see. Certainly by dawn, the clouds were not even admitting a glimpse of the sun. Light rain dampened the dull scenery; people bothered with umbrellas, out of something less than necessity. [...]

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Aberdeen, Maryland to Baltimore to Aberdeen, April 13, 2014

★★★★ The morning air was damp and smelled of the Chesapeake, a minimum of five miles away. Diffuse sun cast soft-edged shadows. The daffodils were up, and the hyacinths, and the forsythia was starting to blossom. A goldfinch was in full yellow now. Out on the highway was chalky brightness; the tunnel and then the Arena garage were befuddlingly dim by contrast. At eddies and crosscurrents to the orange southerly flow of pedestrians, there were cheerleaders in light-catching spangles and oversized hair bows, heading for the convention center. Meanwhile in with the orange were the fluorescent green-yellow sashes of the safety patrol, for Safety Patrol Day. The ramp to the upper [...]

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New York City to Philadelphia to New York City, April 10, 2014

★★★★★ Sun came in high through the leafless street trees and went glancing everywhere. The waters of the New Jersey wetlands were lightly ruffled. Someone's large-screen portable device caught the light and sent a retina-hurting beam across the train car. The phragmites and the trees and the gravel of the rail bed were all brown. A few miles later, dustings of pale green began flashing by, and  trees were tipped with red. Somewhere before Princeton, the lawns were green. Deer grazed on a field fuzzed green with new growth. The green smudges became patches; the patches became swaths. On the way into 30th Street Station, broken glass twinkled on the embankment. [...]

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New York City, April 9, 2014

★★★★  Someone found it irresistible to start jackhammering in the earliest daylight. Downtown, a woman in a light dress and broad-brimmed hat posed for a photograph in the bicycle lane, after pausing for a cyclist to go by. The sun backlit the clouds into fierce whiteness–white puffy cumulus clouds and clustered white shreds, as if a whole cloud had exploded or been shot out of the sky. A brick-scattered glow filled the six o'clock streets, and the wind had a gently autumnal bite.

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New York City, April 8, 2014

★★★★ Through the cool morning drizzle and mist, the shoe-repair shop was already showing an OPEN sign, ready to sell a replacement shoelace for the first-grader's earlier replacement shoelace, which had already exploded into parallel strands at one end. A thin film of water covered the concrete of the schoolyard, where a gravely misplaced earthworm slowly and intermittently twitched, first one end and then the other. The rain stopped; the partly built new scaffolding around the building kept its share of sidewalk damp well after the rest had dried out. The sun came through, and the clouds, now separated, formed a pixelated clouds-and-sky image in the north face of the glass [...]

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New York City, April 6, 2014

★★★ Falsely promising. The light sparkled on the waterslides atop the cruise ship docked downriver. Helicopters went up and down the airway above the Hudson, with the sun either showing off their color or showing off their somber featurelessness. The thin wool coat was simultaneously too warm and not warm enough, as heat bounced up off the sidewalk and a cold breeze blew. Motorcycles throbbed at a stoplight on Amsterdam, then roared away, only to have the hindmost one caught at the following light. Pedestrian traffic overtook it as it waited. The light changed and it rumbled ahead again, but no further than the next uncooperative green.

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New York City, April 2, 2014

★★ Not at all bitter, but still devoid of the least bit of sweetness. A dark gray morning passed through a listlessly rainy midday into a bright, clear afternoon and evening, but none of it made a difference. Even in the stifling height of summer, when the trash-rot hangs on the sodden air, who will long for this endless unwarmth? The children came home from the Park, happy enough, scattering sand from their shoes, carrying sand somehow into the middle of the bedclothes in the furthest part of the apartment. The late light was soft and lovely, and so what?

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New York City, March 31, 2014

★★★★ First thing, out the window, white flakes were falling on a sharp diagonal. Again, again, and still: snow. One spasm—one last spasm?—of horribleness. Then blue skies blew in, first with decorative white clouds and then pristine, innocent, as free of malice as a child is, when the child is not being malicious. The office roof deck was closed, but it was good enough to go out on the fire escape, coatless. On Lafayette Street, the late light caught choking, gritty clouds of dust raised by traffic on the torn-up roadway.

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New York City, March 30, 2014

★ Fog lay over Amsterdam Avenue, up on the building tops and lowering to cover the whole roadway in the distance, but at least it wasn't raining. Outside was raw and indoors was humid and stifling, but at least it wasn't raining. Then it was drizzling, but at least it wasn't raining hard. At least it wasn't freezing. The narrow points of gratitude were adding up to resentment. Down on Herald Square, the wind was colder but no less drizzle-laden. Uptown again, there was more of the same. A rat walked unhurriedly along the not-even-dampened sidewalk, in broad if gray daylight, but to be fair, it was a very small rat.

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New York City, March 26, 2014

★ The overstaying winter had switched again from cloudy and too cold to bright and too cold, as if that would make it appealing. Steam blew from the street chimney and people moved about in heavy coats under the high-angled sun, like a movie scene being staged out of season. Wind clawed at a man's lightweight dress trousers as he walked down Lafayette, his hands jammed so forcefully into his jacket pockets that the quilted fabric bunched up across the small of his back. The wind was numbing, shoving walkers around like a tired mime routine, made no less tired by being real.

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New York City, March 24, 2014

★★★ Everything lay in brilliantly sharp focus, the colors clear and saturated. The brightness was no compensation for the biting cold—now plainly and a little ridiculously out of season—but on its own terms, it was a thrilling sight. A dog went skidding on the dry pavement, unwilling, as its leash-holder detoured to throw something in a trashcan. A woman wore a scarf as a babushka, with her mobile phone tied against her face so she could talk on it. The light gleamed on the chrome of the production trailers using up all the space where the moving van was supposed to go. At dinnertime, the toddler pointed up to the Mormons' [...]

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New York City, March 23, 2014

★★ The wind early on was not necessarily wintry by the thermometer, but there was nothing springlike about it. The sky was flat gray and the river even flatter—the latter the color of off-white paint, as if someone had worked in the details of the New Jersey and Manhattan skyline and had yet to fill in the horizontal band between them. Two flaring white spots marked the late sun, then a blurry square. At last, the sun descended to reach a band of clear sky in the west, and simultaneously the clouds at the zenith dissolved to blue, with only shred of white remaining; beams of hot golden light bounced from [...]

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New York City, March 20, 2014

★★ The gray broke up, and blue showed through the perforations in the shade. Now the furniture delivery was early, but it was warm enough in the sun to rush out in a hoodie. Out on the river, a cloud cast a shadow, one patch of darkness. Then more clouds cast more shadows. They blew away again, returned again. Midday, under the cloud cover, it felt colder than it had been three hours before. A proper coat was a little stifling on the trunk, while the extremities were still chilled. There was no right way to be out in it.

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New York City, March 18, 2014

★★★ The plastic sheeting over the upper middle floors of the rising tower showed sharp wrinkle lines in the sun, like unpressed linen. Only a little haze downriver discolored the blue. A squarish piece of clear airborne litter danced with its reflection, rocking and flipping and flashing, up the side of the mirrored glass apartment building next to the construction site. It floated out of sight.  The bare new apartment was cold, with nothing to do in it. Gleaming cement mixers came and went on the avenue below, and the furniture truck did not. It was cold even with a parka on. It was cold with the heater on, once the [...]

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New York City, March 17, 2014

★★ The sky was a hopeless gray. "I'm glad I'm not marching," one man said to another, as his dog urinated on a scaffold post. "I'm glad I'm not in a kilt," the other said. The piston-gusts of an uptown 2 and a 1 were frigid along the platform. People clutched hot beverages, or possibly other beverages in hot beverage cups. Who could tell? Babies or overindulged small dogs were bulges of fabric, on or inside outerwear. Later in the day, the clouds had acquired a little texture, light-medium gray against light gray. Then, in the night, they had come apart. One sheet, with the round just-past-full moon showing through it, [...]

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