★ Discouraging rain, dark and soaking. The plastic cover for the stroller had picked up a crust of thick black grime as it rode around unused in the bottom cargo basket. The rain eased off and came back on again. Outside the barbershop, a bent cigarette, dropped half-finished, trailed smoke eastward low over the wet sidewalk. A turn of the chair and it had burned out. It was too cold out on the office fire escape to duck out for a break without a jacket. The rain made sure to come on heavily again for rush hour. Little golden leaves made crumbling jetties or failing dams in the gutters.
★★ Purple sheets of dawn clouds went away, and gray, white, and blue vied for the skies. Humidity, chill, and brightness were in a marine or tropical-feeling imbalance: a little uncomfortable, a little comfortable, but only provisionally so either way. The sun ceded its share, then reclaimed it and more. Clouds gathered in the late west, edges rumpled and glowing like an illustration of gates to the mansions of paradise. Then the sun went lower and the mass of cloud was dark and grim. Later, in full night, light pollution cast bright auras on the low clouds as lightning glimmered and flared and eventually flashed. A hissing downpour arrived, and the patterns of light fuzzed away.
★★★ The morning was a slightly discolored blue, like an antiqued piece of painted furniture. Haze scattered the light and made the east not even white but colorless. Downtown, a bit of mist—real or fake—floated over a damp and squalid crime scene being staged for cameras in an alley. People in the office huddled in outerwear at their computers till the smell of the heating system spread over the room. The afternoon light up Amsterdam was strong but bleak, even where it found red and green ivy spreading over a building eight stories up. Only at the end did it turn rich and golden, just before it went out. Dinner was organized and early, but nightfall was earlier.
★★★★ The apartment door banged in its frame where it stood, and howling sounds came from down the hallway. Time to switch to socks that would cover the ankles. Sunlit pieces of plant fluff flared and veered in the forecourt. The pigeon spikes on the near wall were a glittering battlement. Food trucks flanked the Apple Store. Birds twittered over the generator throb. "That is not a ice cream truck!" the three-year-old said. The shortness of the afternoon was palpable. Down by Canal Street, a paper or foam plate soared up and then dived down to bounce off the windshield of a Mercedes. A foam mesh fruit sleeve rolled around on the sidewalk. The shiny parts of the Empire State Building caught the lowering sun and shimmered in the distance.
★★★ A soaking rain, lingering from overnight, went off and on before shutting fully off at midday. From the west, the sky began to go blue. The once-fetid air had cooled. The clouds kept dissolving till there was blue shining in the puddles. The sidewalk tables went into service for lunch. Finally the clouds were nothing but gorgeous piles of light and shadow, pure harmless scenery.
[No stars] Reeking and full of incoherent menace, like a surly drunk squinting for an excuse to take a swing at someone. The humidity was suffocating. Clouds speeding under higher clouds opened moving blue spaces intermittently. Some of the spaces were large enough to let sun through for a while, creating a brief, gruesome caricature of summer. The wind came up and blew away the bright interlude. The light turned greenish and the sky slopped out enough rain to dampen the pavement. After a while it rained again, and again, splatting on the windows in the dark.
★★★★ Low clouds were moving fast in the humid morning. In the span of a viola lesson, the dazzling sunlight had been covered up by a diffuse layer of them. In the span of a subway ride downtown, that cloud-stuff had shaped up into at least one impressively solid cloud in a field of blue; other cloud remnants drifted here and there. It was necessary or worthwhile to get out into the damp warmth to fetch lunch. Across the Bowery, the breeze was cooler. For a moment, near the end of afternoon, the lowering sun made it indoors. Then by rush hour a sort of cover of sort of clouds, mottled dusk-blue and gray, had returned.
★ The clouds, torn in places early, thickened and assumed the color of old fingernails. The ambiguity resolved into a faint drizzle. A gloomy chill seeped through the office. Out on the fire escape, it was humid and a little less cold. The indoor hoodie stayed on for the commute–accidentally at first, and then out of necessity. Uptown, there was just enough light left to search the playground till the fallen leaves began to look too plausibly like they might be a yellow diecast anthropomorphic car. The drizzle rematerialized and as night fell it intensified into a soaking mist, till umbrellas came out and the sidewalk grew slippery.
★★★★ A thick, spine-like streak of cirrus ran straight across the zenith. Light came into the playground sharp and sideways. The white parts of a mockingbird flashed as it crossed above the treetops. The leaves were going yellow generally. Maple wings were strewn on the padding under the swings. The spine of cloud slid off sideways, to the east. In the afternoon, the river was smooth upstream, the far hills in New Jersey crisp against the sky. The cauliflower would go in the oven, not a saute pan, to buy free time for one last look outside before sundown. Fading orange was on the building tops. "After I'm cold, I'm going to be warm," the three-year-old said, shivering in his t-shirt, to explain why he was refusing his hoodie. One lingering pigeon flapped in a dim and stained crevice in the next building's facade. The boy buried himself in the front of an adult's jacket, his own still unworn. Airplanes passed, showing not only their own colors but an extra livery pattern of gold.
★★★★ Colored party lights flashed from a dark apartment, persistently, in irregular sequence: shiny hanging decorations, twisting and catching the sun. The rope from the building-maintenance rigging whipped back and forth outside the window. Dilute white washed the sky, and there were yellow tips on the honeylocust branches. The air was cool on the cheeks. A little waddling dog wore a dog-garment. As Broadway opened out to Columbus Circle, the brightness accumulated like floating dust, forcing a sneeze. A crew was up on a lift stringing lights on the trees. Downtown the clouds were white scratchings on the blue. For a moment in late afternoon, a beam of light succeeded in penetrating the gloom of the office. Leaves and grit scraped along the sidewalk. Light was up in the cornices, and the luxury tower downtown was as bright as a butter knife. Even in this season of sunsets, the opalescent colors at day's end were a surprise.