New York City, December 18, 2012

★★★★★ Morning, with rain on the windows, picked up the monotonous thread of previous days — then frayed it, twisted it back on itself, crocheted it into a three-armed sweater, and set it on fire. Quickly, the sky went blue, with blurry white clouds, and a golden shine fell on the Hudson. Then gray accumulated and overtook things again. The intersection of Lafayette and Houston lay in shadow, while sun flooded the buildings three blocks uptown. The cold had lost its raw edge; in a different world, one in which there was a car handy for driving, it would have been tempting to roll down the windows. A Mercedes station wagon, bumbling into an abortive turn, blocked the usual crosswalk, and the detour around a parked truck passed through an actual patch of sunshine. Sun came and went out the office windows. Something almost like warmth had arrived in the air. The afternoon sky, seen from the roof, was a celebratory flotilla of clouds, a mass migration of cloud-herds across the veldt, a gallery of clouds hung salon-style by a wealthy and indiscriminate cloud collector: sooty low ones passed under high white puffs to the north, peach-gold-gray-slate piles tumbled over one another in the eastern distance, pink-and-gray formations drifted overhead. Looming in the south was an immense, dark German Shepherd’s head of cloud, which tilted and pulled, ears lengthening and muzzle shortening, until it had become a rabbit’s head instead. Glory rays streamed from the rabbit’s nose. To the west was charcoal. And then, within the hour — a long blast of thunder, and a sudden slashing rain, lit like a July shower — and then that was gone, too, the blue flooding back within 10 minutes. Now there were clouds like yams, glowing purplish orange, and in another quarter blue rivercourses in the rifts between long, amber-contoured hills, and in another high webby white clouds like unraveling cotton. Hot pink glared between the buildings on the horizon. The warmth was gone; a simple, sharp cold wind blew in. It flung down a metal sidewalk sign, in the dusk, with a decisive bang.