New York City, June 19, 2014

★★ Pillows of light gray were piled high against a duvet of darker gray. Off to the northwest was a still darker purple-gray bedskirt. The late push of heat had been a feint. A light rain spotted the metal edge of the curb. An open umbrella — unnecessarily open, and doubly unnecessarily staying that way — blocked the subway stairs with its slow descent. The gray lasted till late afternoon, and abruptly came sunbeams, blue sky, shadows. Early diners sat at white-clothed tables below sidewalk grade. The rain had evidently led people to excuse themselves from picking up dog turds, which had softened in the rain without washing away and were now re-solidifying in flattish discs on the sidewalk. “All ladies’ linen jackets, five dollars five dollars,” a sidewalk sample-sale barker announced on Broadway. The dinner table was sunny, but afterward, a new heavy gray mass appeared in the west, with an extra smoky darkness hanging down from its far-off northern end. The nearer part, though, was infiltrated by blue and laced with pink. The menace came no closer. At night, the air conditioner was off.