New York City, December 10, 2017

★★★★ The snow, clean white in the sun, still crisply traced balcony rails and building tops. A lilac haze prettified New Jersey. Someone had built a decently orthodox three-ball snowman on the middle of one of the rooftop tables across the way. Downstairs the snow had held its place and its whiteness even down in the shrubbery. The light found little unpatterned ripples in the undisturbed surface on the top slope of a construction fence. Despite its stretched-out low angle, the sun still could modulate the cold. The wind that was hurrying the ivory-tinged fractus clouds along overhead was not reaching down into the streets. There was enough slush off toward the curb to walk through for peace of mind after dodging along a dog-spattered stretch of sidewalk. From the apartment, enough of the playground was visible to tell there’d be no point in bringing a basketball. Up close, yesterday’s delightful snowfield was now pocked and puddly, no good for snow play or anything else. The only clear option was the swings, though the six-year-old’s parka tail kept slipping off the rubber seat. When the swinging palled all that was left was snowball fighting. The snow from the foot of the fence could be packed into a perfect-looking sphere, but its true and greatest virtue was that it could also not be shaped at all: an unmodified handful of it, once scooped, would stay stuck together, heavy enough to fly true and loose enough to explode and spray on contact.