New York City, December 8, 2013

★★★ Exemplary seasonal grimness. The morning sky was heavy gray with clear air below, too cold to hold any aroma from the Christmas trees bundled for sale on the sidewalk. Inside the Park gate, a bank of plants was dun on dun, discouraging the eye from focusing on it. The Sheep Meadow was chained shut; the nearest playground almost empty. Leaves clogged the sand pit. The toddler clasped his rubber ball tongwise between his mittens, his fingers unable to grasp, and heaved it down the frigid metal baby-height tube slide. Freezing parents negotiated with their small children for a way out. In the afternoon, news came from other states and cities of shocking and prodigious snow. The local share was still a rumor, arriving only as daylight was collapsing, the flakes fuzzing out the first blue of night and wetting the streets. A lightweight blanket gradually covered the cars and the grass — not a phenomenon, but something to trudge through, or to choose not to.