New York City to Philadelphia to New York City, April 10, 2014

★★★★★ Sun came in high through the leafless street trees and went glancing everywhere. The waters of the New Jersey wetlands were lightly ruffled. Someone’s large-screen portable device caught the light and sent a retina-hurting beam across the train car. The phragmites and the trees and the gravel of the rail bed were all brown. A few miles later, dustings of pale green began flashing by, and trees were tipped with red. Somewhere before Princeton, the lawns were green. Deer grazed on a field fuzzed green with new growth. The green smudges became patches; the patches became swaths. On the way into 30th Street Station, broken glass twinkled on the embankment. The cab driver let the road breeze battle with the Christian rock radio till highway speeds made it untenable. The college students had given themselves over to shorts. University-logo banners stretched and filled, conveying their intended unifying visual theme. The basement air conditioning was mortuary. There was day enough to absorb a missed train, and a delayed train after that one. Swarming shells of rowers darkened the river. The vernal gradient passed in reverse. A touch of haze kept the sky from being entirely flawless. Lower Manhattan showed in full color in the right-hand distance on the way through Newark. In town and uptown, outside Alice Tully Hall, a brass band flared, the white sousaphone fiberglass agleam. From the dinner table, the children exclaimed over the crossing contrails as they went from to silver to pink, then finally lost the light and vanished.