★ Another step backwards into the freezer. In defiance of the early forecasts, the cold was intractable. Bars of reflected light lay partway over the crosswalk like misplaced pavement markings. Hands were gloved, gloved and balled, jammed into pockets. The noontime streets were sparsely peopled. Blood spread over one side of the tongue from a split lip.
[No stars] The snow, the threatened and promised snow, was not thick enough to have even completely whitened the windshields of the parked cars. There had been a time when it seemed as if this winter would never falter, as if the forecasts would always be as accurate as they were dramatic, as if there were no limit to what could be achieved. Now there it was, a sickly dusting. Wasn't that the long-ago lesson of childhood, that the snow days hardly ever really come? Especially not from the west, was the secret rule, when the extrapolated progress always failed to account for the Appalachians raking the underside out of [...]
★★★ Fine snow was blowing up through the clogged traffic on Amsterdam. From the 27th floor, only the outline of a cruise ship really backed up the broker's assurance that the river really would be in view out there, somewhere. The flakes turned bigger and quickly put a white layer on everything that wasn't moving and some things, like hoods and coat sleeves, that were. Snow gathered on the railing outside the walkup apartment where that apartment's broker was not. Inside at last, the fifth-floor radiator heat was stupefying. The dead roaches looked well dried. For a moment, the snow seemed to have cleared, but it had just gotten fine again [...]
★★★★ A crushed rat, a large one, lay in the street, its guts a chopped-looking red pile beside it. The morning was bright and mild; the scaffolds were still dripping. Half-trapped plastic bags stuck out of the dwindling snowbanks, along with every other sort of garbage. Birds sang on the Broadway median. The gutters were mucky. Every transition from the warm sun to the still-chilly shade was a binary switch from pleasant to unpleasant. Someone outside a bistro on the sunny side of the street had gone ahead and hazarded bare legs and a miniskirt. Whole expanses of the schoolyard playground were still surfaced with snow, or with the thick layer [...]
★ White swirled enthusiastically outside the morning windows, subsided to gray, then went white again before stopping. The construction workers pushed more snow off the top slab of the rising apartment building. Outside, the slush underfoot was gluey. New accumulation highlighted and exaggerated the contours of the old dirty snow piles. Double parkers were giving themselves permission to sit further our in traffic than usual. A steam chimney vented down Central Park West, turning the people clustered outside the Park into an indistinct mass. Only flashing emergency lights and an acrid smell distinguished the scene of a wildly smoking manhole fire from the ubiquitous grayness. At the crosswalks, clambering over the [...]
★★ The ice in the Hudson had formed a single thin white band down the middle of the channel, like a lane divider. The sky was grayish blue, the snow was grayish white, a grayish gleam bounced off Broadway. The roadway had been salt-lightened and the sidewalk grime-darkened to the same pencil-lead color. Gray got grayer, till the evening, when it all turned blue. A blue van with its lights off came roaring up out of it, after the cars with headlights had all passed. The 1 trains were untenable, but the cold walk up past Lincoln Center was more boring than painful.
★★ Frozen staleness, made interesting only by its treachery. A long coffee stain stretched across the top of a snowbank. Drips from an idling cement mixer had cut a hole in the ice and washed clean one small spot of the white crosswalk marking. Sixty-sixth Street was still full of grainy brown slush. Downtown at the curbsides, the slush had refrozen, the transitory deep ruts and footprints now locked in stony hardness. The treads of the fire escape were paved with slippery humps of hard ice. An airplane was passing in the daffodil-colored light, and the view from the roof was probably beautiful, if there had been a way to get [...]
★★★ Starlings scuttled in the curbside trash, picking at the ruins of discarded pink-frosted cupcakes. The northern sky was patterned, mostly white on a broken field of blue. The east was still mother-of-pearl. The schoolyard was a salt flat. One of the more rambunctious boys was seeing how long he could hop on one foot, with a partner held the other, before falling. He kept trying till both knees of his trousers were streaked with salt. The sun came on stronger. Goodbye, for now, to the hulking parka. There was an intimation of spring in the angle and the quantity of light, but the wind was still cold. A nice February [...]
★ Overlaid on the all-day gray of the sky was a diffuse and nonspecific discoloration, like an old bruise. The toddler spotted the snow first, toward day's end. Fine flakes began blowing down at an angle, and something even less visible was falling among them at an angle closer to plumb. And then even as the threat seemed to be coming true, it subsided. Out in the fading light, the continuing snow was too fine to see, a prickling on the forehead. The bread supply at the Fairway was intact; the aisles were relatively calm. On the way back, the snow was weaker still. The dread of winter was near exhausted. [...]
★★★ An overbred German Shepherd or something related slunk out the side door of a high-rise, wearing protective booties that made its squashed hindquarters appear even more crippled. A powerful gray sameness lay over everything, so that even the sun was nothing but a pale round spot. A speck of something white drifted by, a snowflake or a bit of garbage? Then a tiny wet flick just below one eye, and another solitary white spec against a dark background: the most tentative of flurries, like the first post-Thanksgiving attempts at winter. A customer traced a star with a finger in the fogged-over window of the corner bodega. The Citibike rack down [...]
★★★ Contrails were all around, spreading out or meandering or being laid down sharp and fresh in the direction of Newark. By now some of the snowbanks had flattened into sheets or comforters, their undercut edges floating a quarter inch above the sidewalk. A row of overlapping concentric ripples collided in the long puddle at the edge of a scaffold, under a constant barrage of dripwater. A skunk smell floated up Lafayette in the vicinity of the lined-up skate-wear shoppers. Misery was in full retreat. On the way back in the evening, the water was still splatting from the same scaffold, undiminished.
★★★★ Through the western trees, the descending moon was fat and yellow-white. It was still dark, but the dog was whining and the birds were chirping. After an interlude of not very long, the toddler started chirping too, from the other side of the house. He wanted to see the moon out of the windows there, where it had been at bedtime, but had to settle for the sun. Back to the west, pink and tangerine light was in the tops of the drab trees, quickly descending the limbs and trunks. The colorless sky turned a saturated blue. Outside on the feeders and branches and the fence, over the yard full [...]
★★ Frozen and dried into rigid unchangeability. Hard ice and salt crust coexisted on the sidewalk. A dog lifted a leg to urinate against a mound of uncollected blue bags, one of a series of piles laid out for carefully separated non-collection. A woman was ascending the subway steps with silver ornaments in her boot heels and a fluffy black fur hoodie adding an imperious extra inch or two to the top of her head. The late breeze rattled stiff trash bags and the dead leaves clinging to one small tree.
★★★★★ "It's so fun, the snow," the toddler said, with the confident judgment of innocence. The world was suiting his desires now at midday. He had been up and yelling at half past three in the morning, most likely stirred by the brilliant pink glow coming through the windows, the unreal snow light. I want to sleep in the big bed. The glow had also pulled the adult further out of grogginess than usual, into competence: No. Lie down. No. Go back to sleep. Now. By the time everyone woke up again, the pale blur of fresh, accumulating snow had changed over to something else, wet and grotesque. Ice was building [...]
★ The polar air was dismaying, not monstrous as it had been in the previous incursions. A street-sweeping truck raised a solid-looking cloud of dry dust on West End and left it hanging in the crosswalk for a dauntingly long time after the light changed. The sky was the color of salt-dust, too. The sun faded out and in. Pigeons fluffed and waddled in a patch of turf where the deep cold had preserved the last thin snowfall down between the grass blades, as if it were a specimen of long-term significance. Some new kind of blue melting salt was at work on the sidewalks. A pile of dog turds had [...]
★★ Biting cold, and a sky slightly lighter than medium gray. The gray of a sparsely populated subway platform when every train but the C has already just been through. But a D train came after all, before too long, and the sun began to shine through. Then the sun vanished again and a few snowflakes came twisting down. Half the sky had gone bluer and half darker. Actual brightness came for a while and then faded. People were keeping their hoods up inside the subway station. At Columbus Circle, a wash of even colder air trickled along the 1 platform. At Lincoln Center, snow came blowing down the exit steps, [...]
★★★ It took some looking, on the first few steps outside, to spot any remnants of snow. The Volkswagen camper that had sat on the block through the storms was melted clean, though still boxed in at the back corner and the street side by dirty plow-ridges. The preschooler, already late to preschool, walked slowly, admiring each passing vehicle. At West End, a plow truck was waiting at the light, its blade jutting up and out and its bed full of salt. Cold wind blew from the west and strong sun shone from the east, so strong that the parka pockets were full of warm air. Crusted garbage lined the sidewalk [...]
★ Morning was simultaneously mild and raw, the arctic harshness replaced by a damp chill coming off the snowpack. The view from the prospective apartments was mud-colored all around. A BMW, unable to wait behind a garbage truck, pushed through a slush pile and sped the wrong way down a one-way street. The dark gray grew darker, and some sort of rain began to fall and steam on the driveway. The raindrops were splatting, or maybe it was the dripping meltwater that was splatting; the falling wetnesses were undifferentiable and terrible. Downtown, it was a full, drenching rain. Umbrellas were out. The non-rubber boots were wet, the jeans were wet. It [...]
[No stars] Snow rippled through the air outside the shades like bedsheets being shaken. Clots of slush stuck to the windows. The preschool had robo-called to say that of course it was closed; incredibly or conventionally, the public school was open. The schoolyard, three blocks north, faded into the whiteout. To the south, a stubby little plow cleared a narrow path along the side of the high school, its lights battling the swirling storm. The visibility improved with a little waiting, but it was a deceptive improvement. Instead of big flakes, there were sharp flecks of ice blowing down Amsterdam. "Lovely day," a construction worker said, huddled under the scaffolding, [...]
[No stars] The snow from overnight, now the newest old snow, lightly covered the older and dirtier snow. On cars that had been driven, melted patches showed the ghostly pattern of the internal structure of their hoods. To the east, the sun on the whiteness and the wetness gave everything a spurious pristine shine. The cold was bleak, neither shocking nor capable of being ignored. Breath steamed on the subway platform at noon. A man walked by with his hands thrust in the high pockets of his pea coat, the posture even more pinched and uncomfortable-looking than hands-in-pea-coat usually is. The ground presented every sort of leftover slipping hazard: watery [...]