New York City, January 6, 2014

★ ★ ★ ★ Something slapped against the building, with a noise like a loose tarp, just before the toddler was ready to leave for preschool. Solid white rain was smashing into the glass, rain-blasts exploding in all directions. The preparations paused for five or 10 minutes, and then it was calm again. Rain returned, left, and returned again, without fury. The whole blanket of snow was gone. Outside was damp and mild, for the moment, with a smell of tree bark on the air — a quick change to clear the stage, before the buildup to the next one. Was there a chill in the breeze blowing up Broadway? Maybe not, not yet. By late afternoon it was chilly for certain, but the puddles on the roof were still liquid. Wild sunset light got in under the clouds, licking the buildings with alpenglow like flames on tall candles. The foot of the Freedom Tower’s spire was a stack of glow rings; the gilding on the top of the old Metropolitan Life Tower was obviated, no brighter than the limestone below it or the Empire State building alight behind it. By intermission at the Met Opera, cold night air blew into the Grand Tier landing whenever an operagoer ventured out for a smoke. It took a slow eight count for the cold to reach the inside wall by the refreshments counter. Some of the women were wearing heavy, lace-up boots. Afterward, ripples of light flickered rapidly on the Henry Moore in the wind-chopped reflecting pool. The cold cut through the pants that had been warm enough on the walk over. A thick golden slice of crescent moon headed toward the horizon. After bedtime, the apartment made harsh creaking and cracking noises in the dark.