New York City, June 1, 2014

★★★★★ The morning was not, factually speaking, bright enough to overcome sleep, though it ought to have been. Outside was mild everywhere, save only the toxic microclimate of a street fair, sun-baked and smoke-smothered. The nonfestive used-items vendors sat in their usual sidewalk spaces, now behind the backs of the booths, in individual envelopes of sound: Joan Jett, reggae. The two-year-old was in a dangerous frenzy in the grocery aisles. Taken to the plaza outside the apartment to burn it off, he sent a toy car pinwheeling over the bricks again and again, with some indistinguishable combination of enthusiasm and malice. At naptime, music — a PA system — carried over from who knows where and up 27 stories. Out on the street again, more music blasted from a passing car. Men at the street fair were taking the opportunity to walk around bare-chested, with their shirts in their hands. The playground was dappled and just short of delirium. A preschool classmate grabbed the two-year-old and went one way; a fellow first-grader grabbed the six-year-old and went the other way. The younger boys made a foray to the shady threshold of the women’s restroom, then decided to go play on the slides. The older ones settled into a sort of lopsided kickball game with a tennis ball. A heavy ball slammed into the far side of the chain link head-high; a sparrow came diving by at shoulder level; a little remote-controlled helicopter shot by at groin altitude, with a harsh insectoid chatter, and crashed into the near side of the fence. The tennis-kickball went rolling the wrong way and, with the shocking precision of dumb fate, intercepted the front end of a distant and perpendicularly moving scooter, stopping it dead, pitching the rider over the handlebars. The two-year-old got ahold of the ball and threw it away down the ramp to the school, where it went through a fence and out of reach. Back home, the sun reached into the kitchen to play on the steam coming off the saute pan while a batch of browned cauliflower finished up, after a long day in the slow cooker.