★★★★ 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 pulled at it. Heat seeped from the metal railing into stiffened fingers. The iced coffee tap indoors had already run dry.
★★★ The morning fog was thick and forbidding, but the pavement was merely damp. The mistrustful kindergartener, preparing to go out the door, could be shown that people were down there without umbrellas. Soon enough, the worst had burned away, leaving only a lingering mist on the river and haze in the streets. By late morning, there were only a few scaly patches of cloud in a blue downtown sky. Motorcycles and bicycles came out; greenery twined in a bike's basket. Below Houston, shorts were out: baggy tourist shorts, short-shorts, culottes, everyone's own idea of ventilation or liberation. Uptown, in the evening rush, people seemed to be mostly still wearing the pants in which they'd gone off to work.
[No stars] The newsprint said one thing, but the dark gray outside said something obviously worse. Doing anything nice would be impossible, and doing the necessities would be nasty. Waves of misty rain swept by, streaking the windows. Taking an umbrella or leaving it behind seemed equally futile. Two young men were out in badly-fitting ponchos, possibly made from clear trash bags. They were as well equipped as anyone. Water soaked up into shoes and leaked down through the scaffolding. People winced under their hoods or impeded others with their umbrellas. On the lone dry spot, against the wall of a bank, a busker sat with a guitar, singing a stiff-paced "Let It Be." In the course of seven blocks, the rain had gone from misting to driving. A Fairway worker mopped the floor inside the doors over and over again. Under an umbrella, a dressed-up woman huddled with a man in a pale blue mortarboard-and-gown set. The outboard shoulder of the gown was darkening. All day, the gray stayed, turing to a dirty yellow on its way into a soggy night.
★★★★ The smell of growing things came through the door, but that was the only change to mark the crossing from indoors to out. The air flowing under a shirt in public was indistinguishable from the air in private. Sun shone white on the treetops in Dante Park; birdsong was general. The bodega had peonies and watermelons out. Now things had overshot equilibrium, and a light sweat started and evaporated. On the office roof, the scotch in the lowball glasses was golden, and the light was heading that way. Thermal balance had returned. In a crosswalk, raw threads poked out from a dress chopped off short. Uptown in the evening there were light blue clouds against a deep blue zenith, and deep blue clouds against the light blue west.
★★★ The IRS hold music played and played as the briefly clear morning darkened over. The toddler came back from the park, chased by drizzle. Most of the flame-colored tulips had blown out, leaving only the pink, hairy-edged ones standing. The early chill had brought out leather and leatherette, probably the last chance for that. By late afternoon that chance was over, the sun returning, the air heavy and warm. The buildings away down Amsterdam whitened in the haze, as if pressed under layers of waxed paper. The sun was a zone of brightness, the way painters depict it in the pink Martian sky. Twilight didn't fall over the city so much as condense out of the air, everywhere at once.
★★★★ The sun cast shadows through clouds, then didn't cast shadows, then did again. It was cool again, the actually narrow window of temperature in which men can go out in sportcoats, and men were doing that proudly, even unto a pocket square. People were willing to sit on sidewalk benches with their coffee or a phone call. By evening rush hour, the sky was clear. In the apartment across the way, residents were taking to their balconies.
★★★★ Waves and the shadows of clouds made the river look unsettled in its bed. It was cool enough out to be a genuine surprise or anomaly, corduroy conditions. Wind audibly sighed through the thickly leafed treetops; green maple wings lay on the sidewalk. Downtown, in the afternoon distance, solid buildings stood with solid-looking clouds behind them. Striking but harmless grays were framed by whites and blue. The living room was golden, and the light flooded the face of the bedroom till the black numbers and hands on the clock were invisible white.
★★★★★ In the time it took to untangle the children and steer them out of bed, the gray sky shredded into blue. Outside, leaves twinkled in the breeze. People were carrying wrapped cut flowers, everywhere, all day. It was hard to believe that the day was passing by, that the afternoon could run out; the brightness seemed invulnerable. Leaf shadows danced frantically on the schoolyard playground. The toddler, on new shoes, ran through the infield of a kickball diamond, intersecting every baserunner, then made a baseline cut through a basketball game in progress. Dry petals fell from the trees and went scraping over the pavement. Toy cars were set wallowing through the drifted petals in the playground corner. When the light did go, sunset colors bloomed like paint in turpentine. In the darkening sky, a thin white moon came along behind.
★★ Sequel time: another summer day looped backwards through the projector, with storms unbuilding to a clear and quiet finish. A tolerably damp morning turned into another downpour, and another downpour after that. When that part was done, everything was waterlogged, with the unwanted heat rising faster than the wanted brightness. Downtown, though, cooler air stirred, under inconclusive moments of clearing. By rush hour, once more, everything had all been resolved or forgotten. People wore their raincoats unfastened, to swing in the breeze.
★★★ The beginning was straightforwardly undesirable: darkness, rain streaking the windows, thunder, tears over whether it was necessary to wear the raincoat to school. Then came a treacherous pause. Rain stopped, the sky brightened. From the upstairs bank office, the trees and planting beds of Verdi Square joined in a contiguous lushness not so apparent at ground level. On the way out, a few apparently leftover drops were falling. By Columbus Circle on the subway, a new arrival on the platform had water glistening heavily on her raincoat collar. Downtown, umbrellas were up, but it wasn't necessary. There was barely enough rain to justify a hood. Then in moments the hood was necessary, and in another moment the hood was being drummed on and the sidewalks were splashing and it was time to sprint for a bodega umbrella. People hung back in the doorway, as bubbles flowed along the gutters and water sluiced down the side of a white delivery truck. And then, toward day's end, there was light like clear syrup and clouds as white as new stationery, with fresh air blowing. It could have served as an apology, if the sleeves of the jacket hadn't still been damp. That was no reason not to open a window, nor to open the door and get everyone out into it.