★★★ Falsely promising. The light sparkled on the waterslides atop the cruise ship docked downriver. Helicopters went up and down the airway above the Hudson, with the sun either showing off their color or showing off their somber featurelessness. The thin wool coat was simultaneously too warm and not warm enough, as heat bounced up off the sidewalk and a cold breeze blew. Motorcycles throbbed at a stoplight on Amsterdam, then roared away, only to have the hindmost one caught at the following light. Pedestrian traffic overtook it as it waited. The light changed and it rumbled ahead again, but no further than the next uncooperative green.
★★ Not at all bitter, but still devoid of the least bit of sweetness. A dark gray morning passed through a listlessly rainy midday into a bright, clear afternoon and evening, but none of it made a difference. Even in the stifling height of summer, when the trash-rot hangs on the sodden air, who will long for this endless unwarmth? The children came home from the Park, happy enough, scattering sand from their shoes, carrying sand somehow into the middle of the bedclothes in the furthest part of the apartment. The late light was soft and lovely, and so what?
★★★★ First thing, out the window, white flakes were falling on a sharp diagonal. Again, again, and still: snow. One spasm—one last spasm?—of horribleness. Then blue skies blew in, first with decorative white clouds and then pristine, innocent, as free of malice as a child is, when the child is not being malicious. The office roof deck was closed, but it was good enough to go out on the fire escape, coatless. On Lafayette Street, the late light caught choking, gritty clouds of dust raised by traffic on the torn-up roadway.
★ Fog lay over Amsterdam Avenue, up on the building tops and lowering to cover the whole roadway in the distance, but at least it wasn't raining. Outside was raw and indoors was humid and stifling, but at least it wasn't raining. Then it was drizzling, but at least it wasn't raining hard. At least it wasn't freezing. The narrow points of gratitude were adding up to resentment. Down on Herald Square, the wind was colder but no less drizzle-laden. Uptown again, there was more of the same. A rat walked unhurriedly along the not-even-dampened sidewalk, in broad if gray daylight, but to be fair, it was a very small rat.
★ The overstaying winter had switched again from cloudy and too cold to bright and too cold, as if that would make it appealing. Steam blew from the street chimney and people moved about in heavy coats under the high-angled sun, like a movie scene being staged out of season. Wind clawed at a man's lightweight dress trousers as he walked down Lafayette, his hands jammed so forcefully into his jacket pockets that the quilted fabric bunched up across the small of his back. The wind was numbing, shoving walkers around like a tired mime routine, made no less tired by being real.
★★★ Everything lay in brilliantly sharp focus, the colors clear and saturated. The brightness was no compensation for the biting cold—now plainly and a little ridiculously out of season—but on its own terms, it was a thrilling sight. A dog went skidding on the dry pavement, unwilling, as its leash-holder detoured to throw something in a trashcan. A woman wore a scarf as a babushka, with her mobile phone tied against her face so she could talk on it. The light gleamed on the chrome of the production trailers using up all the space where the moving van was supposed to go. At dinnertime, the toddler pointed up to the Mormons' angel where it stood in the lowering sunlight, going from flaring gold to copper to bronze. The toddler expected water should come from its trumpet.
★★ The wind early on was not necessarily wintry by the thermometer, but there was nothing springlike about it. The sky was flat gray and the river even flatter—the latter the color of off-white paint, as if someone had worked in the details of the New Jersey and Manhattan skyline and had yet to fill in the horizontal band between them. Two flaring white spots marked the late sun, then a blurry square. At last, the sun descended to reach a band of clear sky in the west, and simultaneously the clouds at the zenith dissolved to blue, with only shred of white remaining; beams of hot golden light bounced from building to building, spanning blocks. After dark, in the cleared cold air, there was nothing approximate about the wintriness.
★★ The gray broke up, and blue showed through the perforations in the shade. Now the furniture delivery was early, but it was warm enough in the sun to rush out in a hoodie. Out on the river, a cloud cast a shadow, one patch of darkness. Then more clouds cast more shadows. They blew away again, returned again. Midday, under the cloud cover, it felt colder than it had been three hours before. A proper coat was a little stifling on the trunk, while the extremities were still chilled. There was no right way to be out in it.
★★★ The plastic sheeting over the upper middle floors of the rising tower showed sharp wrinkle lines in the sun, like unpressed linen. Only a little haze downriver discolored the blue. A squarish piece of clear airborne litter danced with its reflection, rocking and flipping and flashing, up the side of the mirrored glass apartment building next to the construction site. It floated out of sight. The bare new apartment was cold, with nothing to do in it. Gleaming cement mixers came and went on the avenue below, and the furniture truck did not. It was cold even with a parka on. It was cold with the heater on, once the heater controls had been figured out. Rebar cast longer and longer shadows across the newly poured top slab of the tower, right there across the way. Workers, dressed warmly, smoothed it out. It was cold lying on top of the heater cabinet, wearing the parka, with the parka hood balled up as a pillow, level with the bottom of the window. The black netting sticking out from the construction site caught the wind and billowed up, one section at a time, then subsided. The river was blinding in the descending sun, along an only slightly unfamiliar sightline. Still no furniture. Back across the street, amid cardboard boxes and stacks of flat cardboard boxes-to-be, amber light poured through those glass walls, floor to ceiling, the admittedly and unsustainably extravagant expanse of glass.
★★ The sky was a hopeless gray. "I'm glad I'm not marching," one man said to another, as his dog urinated on a scaffold post. "I'm glad I'm not in a kilt," the other said. The piston-gusts of an uptown 2 and a 1 were frigid along the platform. People clutched hot beverages, or possibly other beverages in hot beverage cups. Who could tell? Babies or overindulged small dogs were bulges of fabric, on or inside outerwear. Later in the day, the clouds had acquired a little texture, light-medium gray against light gray. Then, in the night, they had come apart. One sheet, with the round just-past-full moon showing through it, glowed silver; others caught the orange of the city lights. Between them was deep blue, with twinkling stars and strong-shining planets in its lingering winter-clarity.