★★★ Leaves were flattened against the wet morning sidewalks of the city, pressed into golden ovals of slime. Under and across the Hudson, in the dim light, autumn colors rioted in the ditch by the rails. The New Jersey marshes affirmed their power to wring beauty out of anything: the reeds were the color of a lioness’s fur; the water caught the dull sky and reflected it back with a silver gleam verging on electric blue. The train advanced, through space or time or possibly both, into the full clear blaze of October, where crisp and curling oak leaves lay on dry pavement. Lawns were duveted — red and pink here, gold next door; office-suite parking lots lay behind brocade draperies. On the return trip, the progress reversed itself, as ambiguously as it had arrived. Was dusk coming heavily and early out the windows, or were the clouds still lurking? The Freedom Tower answered the question by coming not quite into view, incomplete and half-obscured by mist.