★★★ The shorts the kindergartener wanted were in the laundry, as were several other acceptable fallback shorts options. Lots of pairs of shorts were in the laundry. The morning warmth was nothing much till you stood still at a crosswalk and let the sun catch up with you. A woman was using a cheap black umbrella as a parasol. By late midday, it seemed as if umbrellas would need to be umbrellas. A stroll out for a sandwich, in the oncoming dimness and dampness, seemed doomed. But the rain held off, even as the sky's burden grew heavier and darker. Every trip outside felt like a narrow escape, a bit of [...]
★ Everyone was preparing for the worst. The kindergartener put his rain boots on and the sneakers in the book bag, instead of vice versa. Dropoff had been moved indoors, which usually never happened unless the schoolyard was being inundated. But the forecast and the radar and Twitter and the naked eye were in accord: It was on its way, like the far end of a gate swinging shut. At last it arrived, lightning and straight-falling rain, as the southern faces of buildings turned brighter than their eastern ones. In 15 or 20 minutes, that rain passed. Things were happening in the sky. The clouds were pinched and creased into dark [...]
★ Outside the doors, the pavement was filmed with rain, too little of it to run off yet. East of the Park, the view down Fifth Avenue was ashy and indistinct in the distance. A man was up on a cherry picker, working on a surveillance camera. Rain flecked the cab windows. A traffic cop in safety-green rain gear knocked on the glass and ordered the driver to swing left, wide of the buses. In the right lane, a long, black Mercedes sedan was slewed over at the curb, the front of its hood burned away. The wipers came on. By the time the cab reached the party store, the rain [...]
★★★★ The morning drew people out onto their balconies. The sun was screened by high clouds early, but nevertheless glared off the sidewalk. Sweet air flowed, and the sky grew clearer. By afternoon the light was fit for basking in, while birds passed overhead. The streets running west were too bright to look down directly; plate glass subdued and held the passing scene, a protective mirror.
★★★★ The harbor islands faded off in the southern distance in a moderate haze. Tortoiseshell ripples of light wobbled around the bottom of the hotel pool, through murky water. Somewhere in the glass-roofed corridor of the mall, outside the food court, a bird was chirping, the sound echoing off the polished surfaces. It was still savagely hot, but not sadistically so; the sky was plain blue. Ahead of the taxi, around another bend or two in the river, the gilt spire of Lowell House flashed. A seagull flapped by, its trailing edges lit up white. A glare headache was beginning to move into the space vacated by the pre-coffee headache. In [...]
★ A mostly clear sky became mostly not-clear, with no obvious point of transition. Raindrops fell almost imperceptibly, and then were perceptible: tiny jolts of cold, raising a Galvanic twitch in the brow muscles. Then it was just rain, hanging a row of drips from the railing out the window, a wet curtain drawn over the work hours. The late day was drips and puddles downtown, and a spray uptown that barely but surely required an umbrella. The tops of the taller apartment buildings were beginning to fade into the cloud bottoms.
★★★ Nobody but the toddler was inclined to wake up in the dim morning. It was too humid to feel chilly, but toward noon, the CNN sign over Columbus Circle read 18 degrees lower than the sweltering forecast in the paper. Small schoolchildren out on field trips filled the crosswalk and sidewalk. Air conditioners dripped onto awnings downtown, and anti-fracking activists accosted pedestrians. The afternoon air was beach air, thick and full of glare. In a hot patch of light by a store window, the surface of sun-splashed clothes advertisements briefly seemed to dissolve into the real world. In front of the apartment building, people were sitting out on the stone-block [...]
★★★ A pneumatic hammer raised a yellow, choking cloud of dust in the thick morning air. The 1 train was stifling and had that lotion smell again. The dust or the lingering thought of the dust was itchy on the skin. This was summer lite, the worst of it still seemingly subject to mitigation, if you stayed out of the direct sun or away from construction. It could be outsmarted. Midafternoon brought a quick hot plopping rain. Smokers stood in it on the fire escape, undeterred by the raindrops or the soggy staleness between them. Then the storm had passed, and already the metal steps were drying off. Things had cleaned [...]
★★★★★ The river was brown and stirred up; the clouds were white and whiter over deep blue. A man brushed his teeth on an east-facing balcony; a woman several balconies below him lay back in a lawn chair and held a newspaper above herself. The streets were tranquil. One of the glowing clouds briefly intercepted the sun over Alice Tully Hall, then retreated. The fountain in Lincoln Center looked like a cut-glass abstraction. A flat pink cap finished a pedestrian's outfit of pink seersucker shirt and pink seersucker shorts. Down on the subway platform, some wayward flying insect landed on the wrist of the hand holding the new book of poems. [...]
★★★★ The odds on the long-term bet had turned bleak, at nearly the last minute, but now here was the payoff after all: The sky over the apartment building's deck was clear, all clear, devoid of anything that might even slightly resemble a threat. Decorations could be taped down to dry paving blocks, paper streamers wrapped around dry railings. The wind sent bunches of newly inflated balloons, weighted with mere rolls of masking tape, retreating down the hallway; the balloons would need to taken outside and tied down one by one. Some of the children–with their short time horizons, their indifference to the perils of how things could have been–saw fit [...]
★★★★★ The light was so dazzling it seemed like it had to be warm, but the air was cool and fresh. A woman's teeth gleamed much too whitely in the shade of a scaffold; a support beam showed like a false stair tread through the light-flooded translucent landing on the way to the bottom of the Apple Store, causing a stumble. Breezes wandered the downtown streets, past the motorcyclists and the map readers. Two Citibikes peeled off the rack in the afternoon as one pulled in. Riders were out on their private wheels: a folding bike, an electric bike, a bike accessorized with a live dog in a wicker basket under [...]
★★★ The sweltering morning had to be faced in long pants and lugging jackets, in anticipation of the deep freeze aboard Amtrak. The tint of the train windows emphasized the brownness that hovered like a dust cloud in the air over Queens. The picturesque waters of Connecticut were scummy and brownish too, but the cormorants and heron didn't mind. The brightness and motion kept the toddler awake, and the wakefulness made him start screaming and keep screaming, till he had to be removed from human society and held in the hot, dim metallic-scented passage between cars, where the screaming subsided. Further up the coast, the tinge on the horizon was more [...]
★★★★★ Superlative for any day, let alone a holiday. Shockingly close to perfection. Above the near-empty morning streets was a flawless, empty sky, so bright that a blue glow perfused the shade. The toddler toddled uptown, toward the schoolyard, pausing to study the demolition bins through the hole at the bottom of the construction fence. Adults with flip-flops and bulging totes were trekking toward the subway. Cool air circulated through the playground; leaves clipped the blue above and the sun below into fragmented patterns. It was almost possible to use the swings without impatient parents lurking to await their children's turns. Some child had brought a bubble wand, and the toddler [...]
★★★★ Downriver, the Jersey side was almost gone in the bright morning haze. A pneumatic hammer on an excavator chattered like a monstrous bird courting. The air in the hallway was swampy. On the cross street, a man was up a ladder cleaning the metal sides of the lettering over the entrance to the music center. A group passed on Broadway wearing kilts, men and women both. There would be no sign of the forecast showers. Downtown, trapeze dresses were definitely announcing the season and themselves as a thing of it. Eventually the office air conditioner forced an escape to the roof, where sun warmed the dark shirt fabric and breeze [...]
★★★ The early light was dim enough to permit sleeping late. After that ceremonial reprieve from duty, toward noon, the children in the playroom lobbied their fathers to go outside, where the air was not yet hot and the radiance wasn't penetrating the shadows. The sky, which had gone blue, went gray after lunch. But the worse the prospects for the afternoon looked, the better things were in the moment: to be out under clouds, with gusts stirring, was a float in tropical seas; whenever the threat of rain seemed to diminish, the brightness was roasting. In the end, beauty beat out comfort. Clouds lifted, and clear sun laid a blue [...]
★★★★ Were the clouds moving by, the kindergartener asked, looking up and out the window, or were they coming together? The question would remain open, as the morning darkened and brightened. The air was unsettled, too, with a roiling vitality to it—warm but not hot, humid but not muggy, the breeze tumbling around in stimulating gusts. Downtown, walls of film-production trucks blocked the air flow, turning the sidewalk into a cattle chute. The light outside kept changing. Uptown, kindergarten snack time was being interrupted for a fire drill, pulling the children away from their cupcakes and out into an unexpected and undefended burst of rain. There was no such mischief on [...]
★★ The good spell left, with polite reluctance, taking its time but nevertheless steadily fading out of range. The sky grayed and darkened; the clouds acquired depth and texture. The air conditioner kicked on automatically, announcing its superfluity. An opened window brought in air too chilly to keep allowing in. A few drops fell in the evening, so that rummaging in the pantry took the place of walking to the store. An airplane crossed above or through the lowest and darkest chunks of cloud, like a needle passing in and out of cloth.
★★ The sky was emptying itself out. A woman in flip-flops trudged straight through a full, streaming gutter, pushing a stroller. There was no shelter or relief between the cab stand and steps up to the door of South Station, and the winding ramp was not even worth considering. The concrete trough between the rails was a pond. For a while, the rain and condensation and drops on the windows combined to be almost opaque, but then somewhere east of East Haven the sun came out. Then on the approach through the Bronx into Queens, there was an orange tinge to the light, and gray was covering Manhattan. Ominously cool, [...]
★★★★ Gray fog turned into blue haze, dirty in the southern distance down the avenue. Late morning was still a little cool, more pleasant than it looked like it should be. Things got warmer and warmer, but were always preferable to the indoors. The sun was a glow sprawling all over the western sky, forcing the eyes down and away. How was anyone supposed to appreciate the solar alignment with the Manhattan streets if the light was coming from everywhere at once? The thick air was soothing on the skin and contentious on the nose: garbage, cologne, cooking. As it lowered, the sun pulled itself together. Golden light poured sideways across [...]
★★ Clouds were moving and kept on moving, bunching up and loosening and bunching up again. The river went dark and choppy, then turned smoother and silvery as the rain blew in. The clouds still had white in them, even as the drops fell. After the rain–or between the rains, as it turned out–the river was green and mottled with shadows, as sun came through. Then it was deeper green with whitecaps coming across the current. Indoors was humid, but the breeze outside had become fresh. A male kestrel fluttered up and perched on a balcony across the way. By the time the camera could be persuaded to zoom past the [...]