New York City, January 5, 2014

★ Furnace plumes pointed up and eastward from the building tops, against the gray morning sky. Trees and sidewalks down below were wet black-brown against the snow; the river was mirror-calm, reflecting details of the buildings on the New Jersey side. Then the plumes and the river were both lost in fog, and rain or drizzle streaked the windows. Some of whatever was falling was frozen. The cold snap had broken something in the building’s plumbing, and flooding had closed the playroom. Outdoors was soggy, too, the deep freeze having subsided into slushy bleakness. Icicles hung from the angled concrete column-molds stacked by the construction site, and ice sheathed a new leaf put forth by a misguided tree. Sheet ice fractured and slid underfoot, on its way to being ground into more slush. The farther up Amsterdam, the looser and more treacherous the footing. Outside the Rite-Aid, someone had spilled milk or something milky, and it had flowed underneath the sidewalk ice and spread bluely there.