★ Softly lumpy clouds — distinctly and individually rounded, but packed together solid — darkened the morning and midday. The wind made guttural noises against the building. Suddenly and briefly after lunch, blue spaces opened among the drifting white and gray masses and the sun came through. Then the blue closed up again, before the three-year-old could finally be gotten out the door with his scooter. Dark fissured ice still clung to the parking spaces on 70th Street, in the shelter of cars, and more ice lay along the fence between the outer playground and the inner concrete schoolyard. A girl in pink earmuffs and pink-wheeled old-fashioned roller skates gingerly walk-rolled over the pavement. Children and parents practiced soccer and then gave up and went away; more children and parents arrived and tried playing catch. The wind was nagging, unforgiving of the decision to try a t-shirt under the heavy wool coat. The turnout on the playground stayed sparse, though not sparse enough to keep the three-year-old’s scooter path from converging with an older girl’s wobbling progress on a pivot-centered skateboard, in a sideswipe that sent both tumbling. By departure time, his old tan corduroys were speckled up past the knees with sooty flecks of meltwater. The clouds kept looking dramatic; faint colors seethed in the indentations between them toward sunset. All they brought to the world below them, though, was odious toil.