★★★★★ Manhattan receded in shades of blue, like a mountain range. Building windows flashed in the sun to the west of the train, while the east lay in haze. Thin clouds and clear sky bled together, borderless. Faint dampness and a faint chill hung on the morning suburban streets. It was fine for walking. Good for walking. Old leaves lay matted down by the curb, and a stray plastic Easter egg, battered and grimy, presumably forgotten in someone's shrubbery till a rake had found it. The light was brighter on the white pillars of the temple on the way out than it had been on the way in. Roofers hammered away [...]
★★★ After the brutality of the day before, a sort of apology. The slashing wind was gone, the Hudson glassy. The illness had lifted from one child and landed back on the other. Outside, the air still numbed the hands, but it was not cold enough to stop sidewalk canvassers. Shadows cross-hatched the sidewalk as late sun bounced back and forth across the avenue. The light was the color of dry bones. By now the air was pushing along the cross street, and the river was gently ruffled. The sun lowered and the light suddenly went golden; the dormant colors in the landscape revived. Pink speckled the sky, a final congenial [...]
★★ Light wasn't getting down into the streets at all at 9 in the morning. A shelter of clear plastic sheeting had been set up outside the movie theater on Broadway where the premieres are. The thin clouds allowed sun through, but seemed to strip if of color. Only the churchyard maples were still vivid in the otherwise faded day. Sidewalk tables were out, empty in the deep cold, glasses overturned on napkins. They were still empty hours later, as a man on a cell phone stood beside the tongue of flame of an outside heater. The cold was misery-making—even indoors, when the elevator, in transit to the basement, let in [...]
★ The sky was a white-gray blank, seemingly depthless and inert, defeating the eye that tried to find something to focus on. Then a heavy, fine rain began, restoring distance and perspective. The playroom filled up with children as the rain soaked the terrace and dripped from the railings. A toddler drove off in the kiddie car the older children were using as a soccer goalpost. An older child grew angry and defiant. A warm damp wind blew the door open and held it open. New Jersey and uptown were all but gone; the mist closed in on the top of a not-particularly-tall apartment building. The trees, at least, were still [...]
★★ A sunny morning presented itself through the windows, while sausage browned in a pan. For the first time, the logic of putting hardboiled eggs into a lasagna almost made sense—nothing seemed too dense to feed the body now, with the cold and dark closing in. A little past midday, dark gray swept over everything, with pale glowing patches where the clouds were torn and the torn spots occluded. The building made sharp creaking noises; the Hudson, which had been a bright-blue green, went slate gray. The Monopoly board lay in dimness on the rug. And then the eventful short afternoon turned again; clear blue overtook the sky, and the murky [...]
★★★ Again leaves were falling, individually and distinctly, this time chips of yellow drifting down and away from the lindens. The harshness had departed. Two cherry pickers were hanging snowflake decorations from the traffic-light poles downtown. The clouds thickened somewhat, with a disproportionate effect on the sun and the warmth. Here was the ungenerous light of November. The day could be picturesque, but glory was out of reach.
★★★ In the dark, humid morning, what must have been a mosquito—a mosquito, on the last day of October—had raised a welt on one shoulder. It was warm enough not to worry about layering thick coats over costume tops, so warm that there was no excuse or argument worth making in favor of costume pants. By the time the fleecy dinosaur had been dropped among the other creatures and personages at the preschool, an adult could walk back in short sleeves. A thin, dampening rain fell for a while after lunchtime. The hallways and stairwells were comfortable for a cowboy to roam in; the dinosaur, tail streaming behind him as he [...]
★★ Dim, dim, dim. Birds moved like airplanes against the lowered morning sky. A street sweeper raised a choking cloud of dust in the still air. Near midday, a golden glow found the elevated expressway, then faded out again. The color of the haze gradually shifted, sometimes amber, sometimes grim brown; bright rifts and even some blue appeared in the clouds, then went away again. By late day, the spectacle was entirely jumbled: white dots of cloud, in sizes varying from small to minuscule; a blank gray overlapping them from below; a zigzag of bright orange, above stairsteps of the same orange. Before it could resolve itself, it just went dark.
★ Cruel and bleak. The trees were all but stripped, the bright part of the season gone to dull brown. The Hudson was olive, with white dashes of whitecaps moving sideways. When the toddler barged through the bathroom door, chilly air darted around the shower curtain and cleared out the warm steam. There seemed to be snowflakes dancing by in the sunlight, snowflakes or seed puffs. Neither one seemed like it should be plausible. The wind blowing in through the apartment entrance was so cold it felt like a wet blast of sleet, though the afternoon was bright and dry. The garden had been chopped to stubble. The floating white specks [...]
★★★★ There was still enough light getting through and there were still enough leaves on the trees to make bursts of color, interrupting the shadows and bare branches. Gum spots gleamed like coins where the sun skimmed the sidewalk. In the early afternoon, with the scarf forgotten on the desk, it was cold enough to discourage walking any further than the pizza place. After sundown, and not long after, the cold was sharper still, enough to make eyes water.
★★★ Blood seeped out from a tiny crack in the dry skin of one thumb tip. Trash bags rattled stiffly in the wind off the river. The light was bright but low, skimming the surface of the sidewalk grates, shooting down the subway stairs to smash blindingly into the station floor. A delivery man on a bicycle wore a black balaclava. It was hat weather now, hat after hat down Prince Street. Where was the hat, anyway?
★★★ The jacket, shed and draped on the stroller in the gray warmth of Amsterdam Avenue, now threatened to blow off into a puddle on Riverside Boulevard. The weight of the two-year-old, rather than stabilizing the bucking stroller, was up on adult shoulders, where more bucking was going on, accompanied by whooping. Ever the river wind was not cold, exactly, but there was certainly a lot of it. It trailed along on the way back from the river, helping linden leaves infiltrate the basement hallway of the apartment. A little after 10, a few drops began to fall, and almost instantly there was full rain, invisible but thorough. Downtown, the showers [...]
★★ Foliage threw a yellow glow down into the sunken driveway on the building's west side. It was time for the wool coat over the hooded jacket over a sweater. The wind chopped the dark Hudson into irregular whitecaps. Even the two-year-old, after weeks of fighting off warm layers, confessed that he was cold. Downtown, on the sunny side of the street, leaves twinkled on the branches and sailed away on the gusts. Enough prettiness, and enough of the wind. The rest of the day could stay outside the windows till the heavy, early dark came down.
★★ Dimness laced with occasional unexpected colors. Morning was mild, though the sun was weakened by clouds. The air smelled of dampened leaves. Within an hour or two, it was fully overcast, thick and yellowish. The leaves on Prince Street had turned, in their passage through autumn, to the pale green of new spring growth. Spots of pink appeared in the otherwise gloomy late sky. The 1 trains were running 10 or more minutes apart, but walking was a decent enough option, as the clouds went to iodine purple.
★★★ The sidewalks were fairly empty, in the mild morning, except where people crowded outside waiting for doors to open on a clothing sale. The light was gray in the shade and flat but dazzling in the open, and the children had no objection to being out in it. Down in the subway, the cool and damp air had a quality not entirely unlike freshness. As the day went on, an unassuming high, thin cloud layer gathered, letting blue through overhead but suppressing the southern sun. Gradually the clouds thinned out again, and briefly the light was golden—till the sun was cut off abruptly by a solid gray sheet of cloud [...]
★★★ The blue morning with decorative clouds looked inviting from the sickbed, in theory, but what got the body up and out was the sight of the clouds closing over in the afternoon, threatening to finish off the daylight early. Outside was not as bad as it could have been; veins of light were in the clouds, and the temperature was decent. In the time it took to walk to the store and halfway back, the remaining good points of the day had mostly worn off, the rising wind meeting the ebbing energy.
★★★★★ Where the forecast had promised drenching rain and howling wind, daybreak instead brought a pale blue sky, with gray and white shreds of cloud blowing away. All that remained of the bad news was wet ground, quickly drying, and a few trees stripped bare, and an ugly green line offshore on the radar app. The sky cleared out entirely; the construction crew, not as far down below the window as before, steered the hose from a pumping boom as it spewed a floor's worth of wet concrete. The power trowel cast a sharp shadow as a lone worker, trailing the rest of the crew, steered it across the smoothing and [...]
★★ Up went the shade and there there were: snowflakes, zipping sideways or doing loops against the dark, drab background of the wet city. Straight, heavy rain replaced them, and then a new burst of snow, thicker and roiling, making a white blur of the river. The first-grader's boots came out; the preschooler wore his hat. Before long, though, the symbolic performance had passed, in favor of mundane gray and cold. A swath of blue appeared over New Jersey, and stayed there, coming no closer, through the afternoon. Manhattan remained overcast, the exhausted clouds going nowhere. The clear sky to the west became a full spectrum, picturesquely dotted by dark clouds, [...]
★★★★★ A small flight of pigeons veered through the sun-filled space between buildings. A stray plastic bag was trying to float up and out of the trash chute on the building's internal gusts. The kitchen garbage overbore it and carried it down again. Little dots of cloud peppered the sky in the west. Then quickly, but not for long, there was a fused and rippling cloud surface. Early afternoon was bright and gleaming. Purple undertones showed through the fake-weathered Ralph Lauren shop sign. A blur of taxi color reflected in the high second-floor ceiling of another clothing retailer. A cab ride of a dozen blocks crosstown was inferior only to the [...]
★★ A fleeting moment of blue vanished into a gray morning. The scooters had to scoot out into it regardless; the unsaved daylight hours were dwindling away. A cold, sparse drizzle was blowing on a cold wind, but the fallen leaves were still dry and curly enough for one to scrape along under a scooter for a while. Even in the gloom, the maple at the far eastern end of the schoolyard was a saturated gold. The children scootered around and through games of foursquare, basketball, soccer. Adults were playing racquetball on the concrete wall. It got darker. The two-year-old took to the climber, his nose and his feet both running [...]