New York City, August 21, 2017

★★★★★ The sun was shining through nothing more than a thin film of cloud. Sunlight strained the eyes; it warmed the ears; it raised sweat on the palms and made that sweat glisten. Just before the beginning of the appointed time, the cloud layer attenuated the light in a way that could be thought of as uncanny, if one were suggestible. A while later, when the crowded elevator let out onto the roof of the office building, a full cloud was covering the sun, but it passed on and through a pinhole in an index card it was possible to see the bite out of the disc. Up past the Flatiron, Madison Square was full, and people were accumulating on roofs all around, holding flashing objects to their eyes. A sooty dimness lay over the whole wide view of the city. More clouds closed over, then opened again. Now and then, as they came and went, it was possible to look at the flat white crescent of the sun through them, just as one might look at the entire round sun when the clouds were right, without danger. With sunglasses, that moment could be prolonged, though when the eyes were finally averted, a green crescent would float on them. The rooftop plantings were too sparse to be scattering abundant fishscale patterns in their shade, but careful inspection could turn up a few of them. Through borrowed cardboard protective glasses, the cutaway shape was precise and orange and it hung in a meaningless, featureless void as long as the glasses were up. Then there was the world again, about as dark as a real thunderstorm, no darker. The thick clouds departed and high peppery ones floated over the growing sun. People jammed the exit. After the majority was gone, there was still a huge chunk of the sun missing, and a few diehards with glasses were still staring at it.