New York City, January 23, 2018

★★ Every trip outside, the rain was doing something different: pausing, pouring, leaking intermittently. There was no way to stay prepared for it. On the way back from the orthopedist’s stuffy office, the clouds were coming apart fast enough that the wet sidewalks gleamed blue. Even as open patches drifted up ahead over Broadway, though, new thin rain started falling. Curb cut after curb cut held sooty puddles. The gray asserted itself as reality; the blue dissolved as illusion. A hard summery downpour splatted against the windows and came ticking through the open end of them onto the blinds. It ended almost as soon as the windows could be closed, and real daylight began to shine. That proved no more conclusive than anything before had been, and new heavy clouds built up in the west. Outside the lobby windows it was premature night. A woman pushed a stroller in through the doors, shaking water off her coat and laughing in dismay. People caught unready hurried along the street or slowed down at the base of the subway steps. Downtown it was over, and now it was headlights that were mirrored on the streets. A thin gold glow was framed in the far end of 17th Street, with pale pink stripes above it at different angles, like overhead wires. Two leisurely beers later, the moon shone clear in a starry sky.