New York City, September 5, 2016

★★★★★ The sky was just less than blue, without quite being anything else. The dread hurricane was nothing more than a swaying and clattering of the blinds. The water in the forecourt fountain was running clear, and there were pennies in the bottom. By midafternoon, after the train ride up to the Botanical Garden, the sky had finally almost sorted itself into blue and white, with direct sun coming through. Dried leaves were falling infrequently as the tree limbs gently tossed. A trio of hawks turned in the sky. Outside the visitors’ center cafe window, as the children ate their potato chips, long dangling evergreen needles twinkled erratically like static on a CRT. By the wetlands there was no way to see where the duckweed on the mud gave way to the duckweed on the water. Flickers pressed themselves against the ground in the open. The sun went lower and raised from the grass a color so lurid as to shame or mock the chemists and designers of tennis balls. Two squirrels came clattering down a tree in a chase so violent it sent crumbs of bark flying to catch the light. After nightfall the temperature was perfected, but there was still no way to let in the breeze without the rattling and banging. A mosquito flew across the bathroom and landed on the mesh scrubber, where it could be swatted between two palms to a perfect limp and flattened mosquito-shape, then ground to a dark paste, in search of evidence of blood.