★★★★★ An ugly morning, deeply chilled and choked with clouds, leaving pockets of darkness. People were out in dark and drab clothing, protection foremost, with rubber boots and big umbrellas at the ready. Cold rain began to fall, a few splashing tolerable drops quickly multiplying, sinking into the hood and the coat, starting to saturate. Then: snow, coming at an angle. Fat, wet, sloppy flakes, plopping onto the fire escape. Horrible. No one asked for this. But the snow kept falling, insistent, through the hours. It started to stick to things, to accumulate. There, in the streetlights, in the tinted glow of traffic lights, in the margin of light under awnings, giant chunky flakes — crude snowglobe representations of themselves, vulgar wonderments. The slush under boots compacted to a hard, slick ice pack. It was treacherous footing even if you recognized it and tried to adjust. The body was not in control of itself. The boots slowly luged down the slope of a curb cut, toward oncoming traffic. The flakes stung and lashed at the face, so thick that even downtown, at this age, without thinking, the mouth opened up to catch them, thick cold droplets on the tongue. Disgusting. Overpowering. Yes it was beautiful, by now, it was. There were responsibilities, travel plans for tomorrow, errands. All being smothered by this unwanted brutal softness. The train now packed with coats pressed into coats. Uptown, upstairs into even more of it. A passing dancer, hair pulled back, parted her lips to receive a flake. The snow floated in the gutters, covering the deepening puddles of its own melting. Faces in the grocery store, unhooded, were flushed, moistened, avid. The snow was sticking to the north-facing signals on the crosswalks, a translucent layer transforming the instructions, the forbidding orange hand fuzzing into a mitten, the white walking figure thickened to wear a puffy coat of his own. There, up in the tower, were the lights of home. And still, before them, the snowflakes fell.