New York City, April 17, 2017

★★★★★ The cloudy, pleasant day in the forecast, set aside for taking the children on an outdoor excursion, was cloudier and less pleasant in aspect than billed—until, just when it was a good time to head out, rain started. On the radar, though, and in fact, it was a only glancing blow. Soon enough the five-year-old was stalking the low wall around the plantings outside, trying to stomp on tiny ants as he waited for his brother to follow him downstairs. Leaves almost hid the caution tape tangled in the treetops. Along the crosstown street, the sidewalk beds were thick with tulips and with pansies in matching rich yellow. Inside the Park, the flowers had come up on their own. A bride perched on the edge of the Bethesda Fountain, attended by a reflector-wielding photography crew and her groom in a silvery dress coat. A red-eared slider, round and thick, swam just visible in the cloudy water of the lake, then rose to the surface to grab a waterlogged chunk of bread. From a rowboat, there were more turtles to be seen all along the shore, doing what would have been sunning had there been any sun shining. Instead there was the cool even light through the clouds, easy for rowing. The creaking of the oarlocks mingled with amplified erhu music from a bench on land, and a scent of flowers spread over the water. A rowboat-load of Europeans tried to bother a big turtle up on a rock and nearly capsized from the effort. Now and then the wind raised little waves gave the boat a shove. The child who had suggested going boating complained that it was taking too long, while the one who had been reluctant rode along enjoying it. In the dim pillared underground gallery leading away from the lake and the fountain, a sparrow perched on an overhead light fixture, holding a stalk of grass in its beak, as if it were building an illuminated nest. Then it disappeared through a hole in the ornate ceiling tiles. The later afternoon cleared and brightened till it was as nice to look at as the midday had been nice to be out in.