New York City, November 12, 2017

★★★★★ A contrail arched smoothly across the cloud-whitened sky and fractured to bits in a wall of mirrored windows. The freeze had lifted; a vest and hoodie were enough for errands. Something small with falcon-y wingbeats flew to the top of an antenna, then took off again just as the binoculars found it. The forecast had said the clouds would thicken but instead they went away, leaving full blue sky and light that was glass-clear nearby and blurry as quartz in the distance. The off-white railings on the playground climber thrummed in place. The sun was already low when the children arrived at the aircraft carrier for the birthday party. The grownups clutched coffee cups in their hands despite the late hour. Reflected sky gleamed on the glossy flight deck of the Lego replica ship, and a glow spread through its side belowdecks. Out the window, the blinding shine spread on the water all the way to New Jersey. The actual flight deck was like a mountain range underfoot, the rays raking over its ridges and throwing their backs into shadow. The canopy of an aged Dassault filled with scattered sun.