Aberdeen, Maryland, to New York City, March 24, 2013

★★★★ The toddler lay on his back, looking up at the muted light in the unfamiliar room, talking himself awake. Snowdrops bloomed in the garden and up on the bank, among the rocks dug up when the garden was first made. The moss, mellow greenish bronze, was steadily reclaiming the lawn from the dormant grass. Goldfinches not yet golden were at the feeders, and a blue jay sharply blue. Where the road rose to the open hilltop, the sky was wide and a little too bluish to be quite gray. Mile by mile, up the interstate and the Turnpike, the day grew clearer, till little pale-blue mirages blinked out in the approaching roadway. Vultures tilted low over the highway, kettles of vultures, one after the next, the turkey vultures veering effortlessly and a black vulture flapping heavily down to the grassy roadside. The plume from the refinery smokestack looked solid as plaster, whiter than the beeches had been. Sun on the auto glass in the Ikea parking lot winked through a curtain of reeds. In the city, the sky was filtered again, and the breeze was light but cold, cold enough that it was worth bundling the children back into their coats from car to apartment building. Out on the avenue, the car disposed of, a reek of marijuana carried up the sidewalk, behind a man in sweatpants walking south.