★ Cruel and bleak. The trees were all but stripped, the bright part of the season gone to dull brown. The Hudson was olive, with white dashes of whitecaps moving sideways. When the toddler barged through the bathroom door, chilly air darted around the shower curtain and cleared out the warm steam. There seemed to be snowflakes dancing by in the sunlight, snowflakes or seed puffs. Neither one seemed like it should be plausible. The wind blowing in through the apartment entrance was so cold it felt like a wet blast of sleet, though the afternoon was bright and dry. The garden had been chopped to stubble. The floating white specks were seed puffs after all.