★★★★ Haze stained the horizon. A man in a sportshirt sat on a bench with a newspaper in his lap, chin on his chest, apparently dozing. The garbage smell of Prince Street was stronger than ever. Storms were closing in, but as thunder rumbled in the late-afternoon, the menace still seemed theoretical. The west was gray, the east blue, the sky in between unsettled. By Columbus Circle, the light coming down the station stairs was dusk-blue, two and a half hours early. At 72nd Street, it was dark and raining hard, but not too hard to walk through without an umbrella. A pedestrian went sprinting across oncoming traffic, unnecessarily unwilling to wait [...]
★★★★ A little yellowish cumulus was showing in the distance up Columbus Avenue. There were some sort of clouds directly overhead in the overall blue, but it was too bright to look at them. It had taken real resolve to put on sunscreen and get out the door. People in medals and bibs, more motivated people, had already finished their morning exertions and were on their way out of the Park. A blur and a shine lay on the Sheep Meadow. Strollers clustered under the trees; sunbathers dispersed themselves in a slowly accumulating gradient fill. The sun raised damp vegetal fumes out on the open grass. The two-year-old had picked up a stick and he exulted [...]
★★★ Variables teetered, rather than striking a balance. Here, in the west, the sky was white; there, in the east, it was blue. There was scaffold shade and cloud shade and sun fading in, or partway in. Humidity made itself felt without being the dominant impression. A man gave himself over to summer with an untucked linen shirt and bouncy linen pants. Suntans were developing, and some had already developed. Toenails were out and done in shiny untrue blues or standard reds. The late afternoon settled into a relatively cool, hazy blue. Street trees tossed their branches. The air in the 1 train car, after the mildness of the platform, [...]
★★ Pillows of light gray were piled high against a duvet of darker gray. Off to the northwest was a still darker purple-gray bedskirt. The late push of heat had been a feint. A light rain spotted the metal edge of the curb. An open umbrella–unnecessarily open, and doubly unnecessarily staying that way–blocked the subway stairs with its slow descent. The gray lasted till late afternoon, and abruptly came sunbeams, blue sky, shadows. Early diners sat at white-clothed tables below sidewalk grade. The rain had evidently led people to excuse themselves from picking up dog turds, which had softened in the rain without washing away and were now re-solidifying in flattish discs on the [...]
★★★★★ The two-year-old stood on top of the heater to look through the window and enumerate the construction workers across the avenue, as the morning light shone into the seven unglassed top floors of the tower. Yellow hat, blue shirt. White hat, white shirt, blue pants, bright green gloves. Red shirt, white hat. Dust floated off the edge where one of them—wardrobe colors indistinct in the shadows—ran a polishing machine over the slab. Out the front doors, water sparkled where it flowed over the fountain's edges. People had stripped down without strain or overheating; chests and tattoos were showing. The sky was pincord blue. Bamboo and other plantings peered over the cornices, six stories up. [...]
★ A food cart's row of light bulbs glowed conspicuously at midday, under the persistent gloom. Little raindrops had streaked the windows; the children had needed outerwear. Downtown, the sidewalk psychic stared blankly from her chair. It was not quite raining but not at all nice: neat raincoats and careless sunny-day clothes went by, equally uncalled-for. The late afternoon sky got around to brightening, indistinctly at first. East and north were blue and white, and Citi Bikes ticked past. Up at 79th Street, a shadow-casting beam of sunlight crossed the top of the crowded subway stairs. Now blue was to the south too, and overhead. The clouds over 66th Street [...]
★★★★ Shapely cumulus clouds occupied the near sky with cirrus wisps behind them, but downriver was bleary grime-colored summer haze. A blimp cruised up the Hudson just above the line where the clear blue began. Out on the street, under clear hot sun, the puddle garbage was softening and cooking into a gray stew. Pale legs of all adult ages were on display; it was the last chance to pretend there was any volition behind putting on shorts or summer dresses. The street fair was on the far lanes of Broadway, where it could be ignored. A beach breeze was blowing up Amsterdam, offering relief no longer than the duration of a gust. By early [...]
★★ A house sparrow wallowed on its side in a planter, its gray feathers fluffed and disheveled. The air was institutional plexiglass. Passengers on the platform stepped toward the doorway of a 1 train car and flinched back, feeling the lack of air conditioning. The air conditioning on the B train was working and dripping copiously into the car. Outside, a stagnant patch of shade was no better than direct sun. The heat grew thicker in the streets–nothing extraordinary, just conventionally sweltering. Nowhere was comfortable, even as the sun fell behind the buildings. On the way down Broadway to find gelato, the two-year-old was a squirmy, ever hotter and grumpier burden on the neck [...]
★★ The clouds deserved a better day underneath them. They were clean white and voluminous in the morning, with deep blue between them. But the air made for difficult breathing; the Citi Bike rack was full. The clouds continued regardless, all through the day: now showing blazing white edges, now piling textured grays on grays, now sending a cotton-pure scout into an open expanse of uptown sky. They heaped themselves up in the west to escort the sun through its lingering descent, darkening themselves into blues, opening a glowing tunnel mouth lined with gold. A silhouetted airplane passed across them. A pink glory ray went angling upward like a spotlight, and [...]
★★★★ The atmosphere had lost its refreshing edge, even on the way to the morning school dropoff. A touch of haze discolored the distance and thickened the nearby air, yet from downtown, it somehow didn't diminish the visible skyline. There were so many bicycles on Lafayette it felt unsafe to jaywalk. A bird put enough muscle into singing to be heard over the deep roar of a pavement saw around the corner. The afternoon sky went white, on its way toward light gray. Children left school burdened with bags of collected class papers, cardboard architectural models. Two little girls carried a sideways skyscraper, one at the base and the other supporting the top. Wind blew on [...]
★★★★ Hot wind hissed through the leaves on the plaza. The rails of on an open-topped sightseeing bus gave off a blinding flash, and so did the subway steps on the way back up. Up in the darkness of the tree crown in the churchyard by Prince Street, someone in a cherry picker was at work with pole saws. Severed branches were being passed up and over the high brick wall and into a chipper. The restaurant windows were closed, the blinds lowered. Short, clear shadows raised decorative conical brickwork to a mammary roundness. Up on the office roof, the black woven plastic of the desk chairs was hot; slumping into one gradually baked the [...]
★★★★★ Some group of chaperoned teens, many in pink shirts, had swarmed into the Gray's Papaya from the 72nd Street side, forcing the line to bend back on itself out the wrong door. The tissue-paper pineapples and cherries hanging below the ceiling tiles swung and twisted in the breeze. The crosswalk stripes were like a fluorescent-tube installation underfoot. The party balloons, herded down Amsterdam, tugged at their ribbons without getting rambunctious. In the midst of the two-year-old's nap, the doorbell announced the upstairs neighbor, armed with a brand-new plastic lightsaber. John Williams music thumped out of the piano to welcome him. It took a long time in the imperfectly dimmed bedroom to dispel [...]
★★ Fog drained the colors from the distance without really obscuring the lines. Gradually it ripened or decayed into routine haze, and for a moment blue showed overhead. Then came gray-green light and soggy, shifting breezelets. The old sneakers had dried crispy from the previous day's soaking. The subway platform smelled of brakes from prior trains, the air uncirculating. Up on the street, phantom raindrops landed, a few to a block, never amounting to more.
★★★★ The morning was well short of full daylight; rain poured out the gray-brown dimness. The elementary school was closed for the day and the prospect of getting the preschooler off to preschool with the first-grader in tow seemed if not impossible at least pointless, or too difficult. Things stalled out, the breakfasts not quite finished, the clothes pulled out but not yet replacing the pajamas. To turn the kettle back on and follow up the first cup of tea would amount to surrender. Weren't the showers almost past? A radar map showed them going by, but time was going by too. The children made it down the elevator and a [...]
★★★★ What might have been a rural dream broke to twittering birds in the predawn dimness, the sound carrying up to the 27th floor. Out in the real morning, the clouds were interfering with the sun, and a damp breeze from downtown contended against the heat in a low-intensity pushing match. New tar shone wetly at the edge of a repaired patch in the street. In the afternoon, a line of cloud like a wing stretched along the sky in the west. It was hot up on the roof, but a heat cut by breezes, a fine natural heat, superior by far to the grim air conditioning below. A heat for [...]
★★★ Plain summer, glaring and bad-smelling. A washed-down stretch of sidewalk under a scaffold stayed wet and made the air around it even more humid. After a few false attempts, the sun finally came on high and hot. A woman stepped out into it and in a few paces shrugged off her suit jacket, indoors and outdoors proving irreconcilable. The heat subsided by late afternoon; children on scooters buzzed the plaza outside the apartment entrance. In the night, flashes of lightning came white through the blinds.
★★★★★ "Clouds," the two-year-old said, riding nowhere in particular on adult shoulders. "Sky, sky, sky. Blue sky, blue sky, blue sky." The water in the fountain had gone from chemical blue-green to algal olive-green, with an accompanying algal odor. Loose-edged clouds covered and uncovered the sun. A lean black pigeon walked by on the bricks, its feet pink and claws black. The two-year-old wanted to go to the playground; the seven-year-old wanted to stay put. The compromise was Lincoln Center. Flatware clinked on dishes in the shade of the restaurant on the north edge, under the grass roof. The surface of the black reflecting pool was only a tiny bit ruffled, [...]
★★★★★ The bedroom was already hot at the moment of waking, and the kitchen trash had ripened overight. Melon guts, probably. Edges of buildings were flat against the white glare. The breeze could still be construed as cool, though the moving air was damp and heavy. Enough Citi Bikes were out in use that it was easy to jaywalk through the rack. A lawnmower raised the smell of cut grass from the not-exactly-public garden. There was nothing discouraging about walking out for lunch. No, more than that. The generous loveliness of the previous days was of course gone, but in its place was the compelling feeling of hanging on the brink. A [...]
★★ Another dark and warmthless waste of the year's longest days. Intermittent rain again, mist again, damp sluggish air in the subway. Sidewalk tables were empty. Water beaded on the seats of the outmost aluminum chairs. A backhoe bucked and dropped clods of dirt into a dump truck. An insistent breeze carried news of industrial cooking, news of feces. In the afternoon, in the sculpture garden that poses as a public amenity, the wind made the silvery grass sway, till a rubber-booted volunteer asked the public to leave.
★ Rain fell like the sprinklings from a produce-aisle vegetable soaker, as the now-seven-year-old went off to school. By the time the still-two-year-old left for preschool, it was a splatting downpour. The ambient spray floating and splashing under the umbrellas was as wet as an ordinary misty drizzle. The two-year-old's feet in their rain boots splashed through flooded crosswalk gutters, the rest of him out of sight beneath his Central Park Zoo umbrella. Whitewater foamed over debris in the storm drains; West End Avenue was a confluence of temporary rivers. The two-year-old's arms got tired and he needed an adult hand to reach out and support the top knob on the umbrella as he went. Once he [...]