New York City, October 20, 2013

★★★★ Light skimmed the side of the Norwegian Breakaway down at its pier, raising a grid of white dots from the cabin balcony dividers and making it look even more like a terrestrial apartment building than the cruise ships usually do. The two-year-old galloped up the avenue in the morning breeze. A dyed hot-pink feather swirled on the sidewalk. There were lurid yellow leaves overhanging the playground swing set, and lurid pink charity gear showing through the chainlink fence beyond. The first-grader had picked out a short-sleeved t-shirt for himself, and was now grumpy from the chill in his windbreaker. He brought a vest out in the milder afternoon, and it ended up hanging from the handle of his brother’s stroller. Dogs barked, and the toddler barked back at them. Ducks cruised slowly on the Harlem Meer, into oncoming ripples that made them seem to be speeding along. The older boy threw a few twigs into the water; the younger one tossed in a pale pink leaf. Between their efforts and a nearby toddler’s, a small flotilla formed up in the waters near the shore. Mallards perched quietly in the dark shelter of a willow, its leaves barely swaying against the sun. Black walnuts bobbed in the shallows, their husks green as tennis balls. The rubber playground surface past the eastern edge of the Meer was scattered with gingko leaves and smeared gingko fruit. On the long, curving bench by the path, an man teased whoops and bloops and shuddering beats out of a green Stratocaster and a quietly overdriven miniature amp. “He is playing a bunch of nothing,” said a woman with an intentionally brassy dye job and a Dalton sweatshirt, walking a dog. Outside the Park, the cobblestones gleamed like ingots. The two-year-old, taking a shoulder ride, waved his arms and hollered at the leaves overhead.