★★★ 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.
★★★ In the dark, humid morning, what must have been a mosquito—a mosquito, on the last day of October—had raised a welt on one shoulder. It was warm enough not to worry about layering thick coats over costume tops, so warm that there was no excuse or argument worth making in favor of costume pants. By the time the fleecy dinosaur had been dropped among the other creatures and personages at the preschool, an adult could walk back in short sleeves. A thin, dampening rain fell for a while after lunchtime. The hallways and stairwells were comfortable for a cowboy to roam in; the dinosaur, tail streaming behind him as he tore around corners, had to shed the saurian top of his head, horns and eyeballs sliding back from sweat-matted hair. After bedtime, the thick outside air glowed with trapped light, shining around and through the shade, as insistent against sleep as a giant nightlight or veins full of sugar.
★★ Dimness laced with occasional unexpected colors. Morning was mild, though the sun was weakened by clouds. The air smelled of dampened leaves. Within an hour or two, it was fully overcast, thick and yellowish. The leaves on Prince Street had turned, in their passage through autumn, to the pale green of new spring growth. Spots of pink appeared in the otherwise gloomy late sky. The 1 trains were running 10 or more minutes apart, but walking was a decent enough option, as the clouds went to iodine purple.
★★★★ The morning was still dark blue when the toddler started calling out from his crib, but the clock in his room said he wasn't really in the wrong. He permitted himself to be held semi-quietly in the big bed for a few minutes, then climbed out and started hauling on the chain for the shade, hand over hand, till it was all the way up. Helping you, he announced. Boiling orange sunrise reflected in the windows of the old apartment slab to the west, the light not yet obstructed by the rising new tower to the north. By late midday, clouds were intermittently muting the sunlight. An immense, dark bee hovered stubbornly beside a sidewalk trashcan, then finally landed on the edge, flexing its abdomen. A leaf blower crew was working the grounds of the tower complex. The Hudson was a neutral blue, with dark flickers going downstream in it. A tugboat and barge, both red above and black below, nuzzled in mid-river, moving either imperceptibly or not at all.
★★★★ Wool felt a little itchy in the full sun. Dissolving contrails made an X in the downtown sky. It was worth chasing and re-sorting a few wind-scattered pages to get up on the roof in the afternoon light for a while, away from the still lagging office heating system. By now, the hastiness of the day's end felt like real shortchanging. There was no hope that the pink western sky would survive the length of a subway ride. But the sky over the uptown exit was at least a cheery cobalt, something less than full night.
★★★★ Seagulls were tiny flecks soaring high in the clear sky, turning from white to black and back again as their bodies alternately caught and blocked the sun. Broadway and Amsterdam was a complicated interchange for light-traffic, different streams of it bouncing downward off high apartment windows or coming low up the avenue through the leaves. The cold was no longer painful or wearying. The pumpkins in the rack outside Fairway had been picked over, but not entirely. The sun was a roving spotlight: setting aglow the hair of one pedestrian at a time in an otherwise shaded block, emphasizing a particular man in a sweatshirt at a particular window table in McDonald's, tracing chain-link shadows up on a peeling sycamore trunk. The toddler sprinted on the smooth plastic planks of the runway on the playground climber, back and forth, till he fell harmlessly, skidding on his down-padded belly with an audible sizzle of static.