★★★★★ 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 lightening slab. The breeze was lively. Downtown, heading down Lafayette, it was possible to walk face-first into dazzling light and warmth, the passing details floating indistinctly. On Prince, though, there was no bright side of the street left. The sun, inexorably descending the analemma, had now lost the churchyard wall. It was necessary to go looking for the light—up to the roof, following a timer set for 30-minute intervals, to ensure the brief afternoon would not escape. A small bee or wasp buzzed around the trembling red depths of the brightest of the Japanese maples in the planters, drawn to either the promise of sap or the illusion of an unscheduled blossoming.
★ 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 darkly colorful.
★★★ 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?
★★ 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, past the ragged edge of the unmoving blanket, now dirty purple.
★★ 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 river became silvery. The toddler was more than ready to go out into it.
★★★ 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 had not rolled in yet. The maple leaves accumulating on the sidewalk outside the churchyard were bright despite the dimness. Then the raindrops came too, bigger ones than uptown. By afternoon, everything was wet and cold, but only as a transitional state, aimed toward a different target: a dry and cold night, under a hard bright moon.
★★★★★ 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 return trip on foot. Readers sat out on benches; sun glazed the facades down West Broadway. A dog walker blocked the sidewalk, mostly with a pair of Bernese mountain dogs, as two-legged pedestrians admired his clients. People stood out on a balcony, on the fake-turf roof of the boutique hotel, on the hotel's fire escape. It was obvious what was coming, as thin sheets of southern cloud waited for the sun to keep lowering. Then there it was, a peach pastel rubbing by the hand of God, annotated in silvery indecipherable cirrus script. The trees across the street were wine red. Now a couple on the hotel roof was embracing and kissing. The blurry crescent moon faded out behind a pink cloud, then faded back again. In the turquoise nearby, the white light of Venus shone steadily.
★★★ 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.
★★ 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.
★★ 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 freely, and refused to leave till he was hauled away. Then, during naptime, the actual daylight broke through, dazzling quantities of it. Yellow taxis crossed on the elevated expressway above yellow trees and a band of yellow leaves inside the fence where the developers keep green space off limits to park-goers. Upthrust bundles of bare rebar threw long shadows across the current top level of the rising building next door. The two-year-old, awake, wanted to head out again. The late amber glow clung to figures in hooded orange blankets, shuffling bare-legged away from the Park. The clouds had blown out so completely that there was nothing to see of sunset, just a bland fading wash of color over the river.