Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
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New York City, September 15, 2014

★★★★★ A dark moth had blundered in on the night air. It made its way back across the living room, encouraged by an old newspaper section, and tried to escape into daylight in the little blind glass space where the sliding windows overlapped, a child-safe distance. The strong sideways light was like a drumroll, like a ping-pong volley between two good players who aren't good enough to finish one another. The sky was clear blue, not a deep and piercing blue yet. By afternoon it had deepened a little. A little chill held on in the warm direct sun. Shadows directly preceded footfalls going uptown. The fountains in Columbus Circle seemed [...]

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New York City, September 14, 2014

★★★★★ Cool, fresh air through the window vied with frying bacon and won. The children were in long pants, newly sorted through to account for a summer of growth. The clarity out the window was prodigious, unreal, like eagle vision. A dignified old brown-brick apartment building, stair-stepping as it rose, stood out deep and solid among its flatter-faced neighbors. What was the light, the two-year-old asked, standing on the radiator cover, gesturing southward: six or eight blocks away, a tiny bright orange pinprick. It took binoculars to identify it as an ordinary sodium security lamp, burning in the dark shade of a rooftop superstructure. And far beyond that, what looked like the [...]

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New York City, September 11, 2014

★ Not only did it not conform to any fixed ideas of what other day it might resemble, it would not even conform to itself. The morning sky was a softly rumpled gray, with cool air coming through the windows and the floors feeling damp under bare feet. Little openings of blue passed now and again, moving north fairly quickly. The ropes of the waterproofing crew's rig swayed darkly back and forth across the windows. A moment of sun passed, and the air got more and more stuffy. By the end of the school day, the cloud cover had come apart into streaks and ripples of white on blue. Then came [...]

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New York City, September 10, 2014

★★★★ Pigeons were bathing in the top of the fountain, getting into it, coming up drenched and ruffled. The sky was blue but with a discoloring haze low down it it. Some squares of the sidewalk had a shine on them. Long sleeves felt appropriate, though evidently so did shorts. It was too soon for jeans. Unexpected dirty gray cumulus intruded on the nice sky—looming to the east, lurking behind water towers to the north. A grubby cloud was nearly overhead while the grim fanatics and the agitated counterfanatics took up their positions on the street corners. Warm enough for skivvies, or for gender-nonconforming scanty things. The event moved on; the clouds went back to healthy [...]

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New York City, September 9, 2014

★★ Whatever else it was (gray, principally), here was something new for the season: an intimation not of sparkly autumn but of the deep damp chill behind it. A flight of purple clouds in the west lingered a good while after sunup before yielding to a general overcast. Then a soaking undramatic rain fell in the middle of the afternoon. The smell of wet live greenery, available still, was on the air at rush hour. Shoe soles slipped on the pavement. Uptown it was drier underfoot, the clouds darker but looking less like rain. 

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New York City, September 8, 2014

★★★★★ The river was crushed-velvet blue. Broken, dry leaves blew in a cloud around the street sweeping truck. It surged ahead or sagged to a halt, as the cars did or did not scatter for it, its roar reverberating under the scaffolding. Being in the sun was a bit too warm, after the exertions of prying a clinging first-day-of-preschooler off one leg. Loose, white clouds were moving fast, northeast to southwest, making the higher cirrus look like it was in retrograde motion. Evaporative cooling was going on in the hollows of the elbows. Afternoon brought a gray sky with gray clouds under it in the east, and white clouds under gray [...]

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New York City, September 7, 2014

★★★★ The sky was a heartening blue, with a little dingy blue haze lower down. A cool breeze pushed into the apartment lobby, but the sun out on the avenues turned out to be hottish. In the Park, on the Sheep Meadow, the sawtooth oak sheltered its recurring rain puddle, but the turf was nearly dry. Amid the conflicting agendas, the two-year-old's desire to go to the tots' playground turned out to be the wisest, microclimate-wise. Sprinkler posts made a puddle and sent water trickling down the entrance path. The two-year-old climbed up the shiny tube slide, with reflected light filling his face. He knocked his head on the top a couple [...]

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New York City, September 4, 2014

★★ The coolness was gone again, even at eight in the morning. Teens abled with their backpacks and another teen with a backpack hurried to catch up. A napkin flapped down to the plaza in the clear light. Cirrus clouds wisped this way and that on the sky. In the evening, a breeze pushed back on the way down into the subway steps, sustained like the air coming over a sailboat's prow. No such wind reached the midblock stretches east of Penn Station, becalmed in the oncoming dark.

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New York City, September 3, 2014

★★★★ Smells moved individually on the air currents, rather than hanging together in one stale accumulated stench. The sun had a little sharpness to it, but high clouds screened the worst of it and it no longer had the angles to unleash its full power. Summer's late bid at awfulness had collapsed like all its previous attempts. The roof was pleasantly warm, mingling with moments of pleasant coolness. Ample late light reflected gold here, copper there. Only in the subway platforms and the apartment building's back hallway was the air still close and hot.

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New York City, September 2, 2014

[No stars] The long-lost dog days had trotted up to the door, weeks late and unapologetic, smelling of decayed things they'd rolled in. Overhead was a bleary mix of haze and thin unbounded cloud. A blinding glare reflected off oncoming cars and the surface of a grime-speckled curbside puddle. Production-crew workers were sticking greenery into the chain-link fence around the non-public garden, till it combined with the flourishing street trees to present a sinister jungle lushness. By midday the sky had settled out into blue and white, and the heat had not gone much beyond the earlier unpleasantness. Visible haze had abated at rush hour, but the air was thick and dead. Down in [...]

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Durham, North Carolina, to New York City, September 1, 2014

★★★ Mist gathered on the windshield of the car and trickled up it in the darkness. The wipers swept it clear and it accumulated again. Orion and Sirius were up in the sky. Off to the left, down low, the sky was beginning to lighten. It grew brighter on one side of the air terminal, ever-lighter blue streaked with lilac. The lilac turned bright pink, then pale pink. Beyond the parking garage, swirls of orange and purple were forming. Out the water-streaked window of the shabby old regional jet, white edges started to show. The plane taxied past what looked like the previous night's unused plane, then cleared the end of [...]

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New York City, August 27, 2014

★★★ It was not hot yet on the way to nine in the morning, over wet, newly washed sidewalks. The air had gotten clearer overnight; the sky was a sharp blue. Cigarette smoke floated in the early light on 81st Street. The heat and haze came on, but with no power to chase people away. A group sat in the shade in the not-really public park with food, a stroller, a little dog in a harness. The tops of the honeylocusts in the sun were a green fluffy line going down the street. The clouds were blurry and discolored, even relatively high in the sky to the north. The warmth stayed [...]

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New York City, August 26, 2014

★★★ Haze stained the edge of the sky. The two-year-old decided he wanted a sweatshirt, and had to be talked into settling for putting it in his backpack. The air was thicker and more difficult to breathe than it had been for weeks. By any standard other than the blissfully anomalous one of the preceding weeks, though, conditions were still gentle. The subway platform was not quite stifling, but the blast of air from an incoming train felt refreshing. The air conditioning on the crowded 1 was up to the task, by a narrow margin. On the D, condensation dripped and puddled on a seat. Aboveground was nicer than below. The [...]

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New York City, August 25, 2014

★★★★ An orange flash of sunrise came off a building to the west and through a crack in the blinds. The morning was cool still but humid. The uptown train came to a stop with a wash of heat across the platform, raising a sweat. On the ride downtown, a couple carried matching beach chairs. Every line of mortar was distinct in the upper-story brickwork. By midday, up on the roof, the sun was hot. It was pleasant to let it pin the body down in a chair, to feel the black plastic hot but not hot enough to hurt through a shirt. One eye had to stay squinted shut for a while, [...]

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New York City, August 24, 2014

★★★★★ Sunshine came slamming down, and the shade was near opaque by contrast. Out on the Sheep Meadow bodies were mashed into the grass, and the grass without bodies on it was mashed down by the bodies of days before. The children made for the rocks and the trees beyond, in the farthest corner of the meadow. Walking across the open space in full sun was one of the few ways to feel uncomfortably warm. The big cumulus clouds were visibly moving at first glance, but seemed to slow down under inspection. One of them drifted over the sun, and the silvery deposits in the nearest boulder glimmered instead of shining. [...]

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Bethany Beach, Delaware, August 21, 2014

★★★★★ White haze surrounded the sun. The forecast of showers—deferred so many days now—seemed plausible for the first time. The story-time room at the library, into which the children had stumbled, unwitting, was chilly with air conditioning but humid nonetheless. Conditions were more comfortable out in the slatted shade of the library garden, bordered by roses and planted with dark purple foliage. Toward midday, two age-thickened men contemplated their motorcycles. A gigantic insect, near hummingbird size, flew among the branches of a pine. Down at the shore, the air was perfect, the sun cut by clouds passing. The water too was ideal. Big swells dipped to reveal a white ship far off, then [...]

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Bethany Beach, Delaware, August 20, 2014

★★★★ The little patch of ocean view lay in bands of color: clear pale blue sky, deep blue water, green grass, yellow sand. The pockets of the second swim trunks harbored old sand and old cash, washed and dried at least a year before. The low-tide waves were not choppy or obviously threatening, but they came in heavy and variable; out past the sandy churning, amid the calmer swells, a bigger one would suddenly rear up at face-smacking height. The water tasted more bitter than usual. Hours later, despite a rinse off, sand grains were still turning up in the creases of the eyelids. A tan dust on the rental car's windshield scattered [...]

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Bethany Beach, Delaware, August 19, 2014

★★★★ The morning was gray and dripping, even as the information online declared that there was a zero percent chance of rain. Gradually things brightened; the deck dried out. Still there was little beach-bound foot traffic. The seven-year-old went out to blow bubbles in what was now sunshine, exhorting them to fly over the roof of the building closer to the ocean. The sea at high tide was the color of wine bottles and the color of cobalt, deep beautiful tones, and deliciously warm, and much too rough to try swimming in. Letting the breaking sandy foam rush past, waist high and above, was the least alarming way of savoring it. There [...]

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Bethany Beach, Delaware, August 18, 2014

★★★★ Sun found the splinter or stray cactus spine in a finger, a tiny golden spark for the tweezers (turning to avoid the tweezer-shadows) to surround and snuff. Pine cones lay everywhere; the two-year-old had to be dissuaded from expanding his collection of them to three and beyond. The ocean was rougher than before, with chunks of seaweed in it and a bobbing lump of foam garbage, but out beyond the churn it was still soothing to float in. At the trolley stop in the afternoon, the sun experimented with severity, but was mollified by a cloud. A rabbit sprinted alongside the trolley for a few strides, then veered off. The trolley rolled past trim, [...]

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Bethany Beach, Delaware, August 17, 2014

★★★★ Blue gaps opened in the cloud cover. The little glimpse of ocean off through the pines was gray. The sun burned through on the way to the farmer's market, making the walk back bright and hot enough for the children to complain about. Out on the beach, the waves spread cool air as they broke. Now the water was the green of good olives, and where it broke it was the green that appears now in late-rmodel cars. The swells were gentle, though people still swarmed the water with their artificial floating planks, sub-surfboards, as if some excitement might happen. A wind roared over wet ears on the way back up [...]

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