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Microclimates

Cut weather in half and there is more weather.

The view of Rockaway beach from the boardwalk, May 1, 2011.

As I walked out this warm and beautiful morning there was a man with a pitbull, and the pitbull wore a hand-riveted tin muzzle. The man said hello, could he ask me a question? He had only a few teeth. His face looked like it could fight a beehive and win. He asked: Do you know where there is the animal shelter around here that takes Medicare?

That was a great question. I thought about nothing but this until a few minutes later, when I was going downstairs to the train at Beverly Rd. and a blast of air came up at me. Then I thought, There's a tiny climate right here. It is different from the climate in my apartment.

For the rest of the day I kept looking for shifts in the weather. I tried to figure out how many climates I might experience daily, in the same way physicists calculate how many atoms of Caesar's last breath we take in every time we breathe (2, or 3), but there were too many variables to even do a back-of-envelope estimate—there might be a trillion temperature differentials. There might be a cold front in the back of the train and a warm front in the front of the train. And the train itself pushes weather around. (On the subway platform a small group of teens passed me, quietly chanting something to each other, loose shirts flapping as the B train left them in the station.)

By my first meeting of the morning I'd already been through a dozen climates: Coming up at Columbus Circle where the stairs meet the sidewalk (windy); next to a bank machine (dry); an elevator (very still, with a tiny, unfelt whistling breeze); and so forth. I kept finding different barometric footprints: Bus, train, cab, restaurant, a 30th floor, Central Park, Chinatown, NoHo, next to the United Nations, and Midtown. It was a day of errands and full of weather. To remind myself to write this I put a TODO into my phone with these words next to it: “Air and salt. And ultimately rust.”


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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