★★★★ Clouds the color of heavy cream stood below whiter clouds in the morning west. Then somehow they darkened to purple before resolving into pert, rounded shadings of gray below and white above. The breeze had an easygoing strength to it. The choice between walking down to the B/D and taking the 1 was so arbitrary and narrowly balanced, it took the impact of an unyielding turnstile to shake loose the realization that one path was supposed to involve using a MetroCard. Beside the bodega downtown, the tops of the trio of trees had quietly thinned to bare twigs. The late-day glow got a few feet into the glassed conference rooms at the street side of the dark office, if not into the office proper. Bright late clouds illuminated the shaded streets, and there were scattered bits of pink up there.
★★ Near-identical shadows of torchiere lamps stood in the same place on the same wall in two different apartments, one directly above the other. The clouds knitted together uptown, but were apart downtown for a while. Blue mottled with white became white mottled with gray. Still the afternoon sun found a place over Lower Manhattan it could mostly burn through. By rush hour, the sky overhead downtown was clear and blue; uptown was nearly the same blue, but now it was the blue of twilight on clouds.
★★★★ A hazy shimmer lay over the morning. Off down the avenue, it deepened to dirty brown. Light flared and bounced; backlit green leaves glowed. It was possible to get away with short sleeves, even by the river, though more people had gone to their fall coats. Buttons of sun flashed in the wet dimples on the sidewalk of Prince Street. A long plume of cigarette smoke rose from a woman slowly pushing a two-wheeled cart. By afternoon, the brown had cleaned itself up to a luminous off-white. The three-year-old, damp-haired and bored with the wait through his brother's swimming lesson, insisted on snapping a photo of the sunlit building across the way.
★★★★ The cornfields were tall walls of brown, showing traces of pale green in their upper parts. Purple leaves sifted down over the choir where they sat in their vestments on folding chairs; the candle flames flicked back and forth and their glass enclosures swung in the breeze. But still insects were singing somewhere nearby, and red salvia bloomed in the bed along the church, even as the tops of the maples had gone flame-orange and yellow. The impression of stillness held, despite constant activity–the leaves flurrying, swifts or swallows fluttering overhead, light planes buzzing through the clear blue. A big, silent vulture glided right overhead. One of the dogs in the congregation growled under the Prayer of St. Francis. A hermit crab was brought up for blessing, its cage wrapped in a towel against the chill. Gusts kept coming, till the fluttering scriptures and collection made an early and hasty recessional for the shelter of the church proper. The sun on the early accumulated leaves cast a warm glow before the door of the parish hall. A red-shouldered hawk studied the field from a wooden utility pole across the road. Off the edge of the parking lot, the ground was strewn with red apples, and more still hung in the old apple tree. The interstate was open and clear. From the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the view stretched to the tiny Philadelphia skyline clustered in the distance. Fields by the Turnpike were rich yellow in the low sun. The rising gibbous moon was ghostly from New Jersey, but by the Manhattan evening it was sharp and bright.
★ The chill was nothing serious, fine for the short run to a late dropoff at school. All day, in fact, it would be comfortable for walking in. Even so, the gray was heavy and dispiriting. Around 1, sun started coming through the windows, and blue and white took over a substantial patch of sky. A life model shrugged her outer shirt off her shoulder in the garden as a drawing class ringed her, clutching their pads. Soon enough, though, the dimness closed in again, heavy and final, as if the brightness had never been.
★ The new month, high autumn, arrived in stupefying gray. The children, disturbed by thunder and cloud-trapped street noise in the night, slumbered on and on. It was drizzling, the drops not large enough to wet things, but large enough to fall rather than floating. Someone had been coughing in the building hallway; a few more were coughing in the subway car. Downtown, the drizzle had gotten heavy enough to call for the umbrella. By evening it had subsided. Leaves were stuck to the sidewalk. A few drifting blue patches appeared in the gray to the north, even as dingy murk held on to the south.
★★ Gray clouds stood behind grayer clouds in a jumbled assortment. A horse carriage rolled by below the pediatrician's office window, and then an open-topped bus, the upper deck completely empty. Here and there the brooding looseness of the clouds admitted some blue: an long opening over New Jersey, a weak spot in the cover high above and beyond Lower Manhattan. One raindrop landed, and only the one. Over time, the irregularities diminished; the day stayed dark and chilly. Even to the end, there was a brighter if not blue patch in the west—briefly edged in pink at sundown. The night air was cool enough for open windows.
★★★ The sun came straight along the cross street, hit the mirrored tower, and came back barely diminished, putting a blinding two-way glow on everything. The subway platform was warm enough to raise a sweat, if one was in a hurry and the next train was not. The clouds had been subtly lovely at dawn, then opened up, and now, downtown, closed again. A damp, pearly Hong Kong light lay on everything. Though the day, the brightness through the window right behind the new office seat slowly failed, till it was time to dig into the tastefully recessed wiring pocket and figure out where to plug in the desk lamp. Outside the clouds had gone over to heavy gray, with ugly yellow tinges to the east and west. The air was warm and thick. Sunset was a diffuse and featureless orange-pink glow that spread evenly far up the clouds, then smoothly receding and fading down to purple.
★★★★ Stepping out into the late morning air was like settling into a bath that had been waiting for a while—an enfolding, relaxing tepidness, not at all hot. Clouds softened the shadows on the playground. Children bored with chalking the concrete camel tried chalking other children's faces. The sun that got through was warm on bare ankles. The lid of the exhaust stack on a pony-sized Parks Department garbage truck clanged rhythmically with a sound of toy cymbals. By the afternoon, when there was no reason not to go to the playground again, the light had sharpened, but a haze still glimmered around the low-flying airplanes. The breeze was cooling, though it was barely strong enough to stir the dangling flags a little back and forth. Day's end brought wild pinks flaring one either side of the glass apartment tower, but the seven-year-old, unmoved, declared it a normal sunset.
★ Morning arrived in dimness, with a soaking rain, perfect for not having to send anyone off to school in. The rain went away and came back and went away; the sky brightened a little and more drops streaked the windows. Clouds blew along from north to south. Late in the day, blue and white appeared in the west, just above the buildings. It was warm and close inside the elevator, getting more warm and more close as the doors refused to open, minute after minute. Outside, after too long, the avenue was still gray as ever, but clear light was up on the tops of buildings. In the time it took to realize the nearest parsley wasn't worth buying, the gray had become blue. Bright pink clouds raced by underneath it, and yet another lurid sunlight bloomed.