Aberdeen, Maryland, to New York City, January 1, 2018

★★★★ The thermometer outside the kitchen window had not reached the halfway mark between the 10 and the 20. The actual snows of yesteryear, the faint dusting from two mornings ago, held to the rocks and the leaves on the ground. A mockingbird, of all things, had come down from the fields to join the juncos and finches, jays and cardinals, in the shadow of the woods. It perched on the electric birdbath, the white badges on its wings fluffed out to startling proportions. A woodpecker’s crown gleamed like red satin. The cold got into the pancakes as the dining room, outthrust from the house into the freezing world, betrayed its long-ago origins as a mere screened porch. Trees and sun laid dense narrow stripes across the highway for a while. Outside the first rest stop, gulls huddled low on the flattened brown grass. The industrial plumes over New Jersey turned rich purple in the late sun, and the backs of the highway signs were molten gold; the front faces of billboards surrendered their messages to the shine. The oncoming city flared brass and silver. Inside it, down in the streets, all was darkness and salt crust and frigid wind. The chill worked its way into bare fingers holding a shopping basket inside the Fairway, and it cut through gloves on the walk back, with the burn of oncoming frostbite. The kitchen floor was so cold underfoot it was necessary to stand on a towel to cook dinner.