That July there had been a spate of clear days and nights so softly luminous that people in Morningside Heights where I live hung around on stoops and street corners during the long twilights, reluctant to go inside. Returning home alone one evening, I passed a dark-haired young man who was stopped in his tracks, staring west toward the Hudson a few blocks away. The rays of the setting sun were lying in low even shafts along 120th Street, and the ginkgos lining the sidewalk floated so eerily in the light you might have thought a storm was brewing. A gleaming shadow was pressed against the far side of each tree, outlining its bright edge of silver bark and shining foolish limbs. It seemed you could see straight through each leaf to its ragged underside, could see around each nubby branch to its hidden spurs and stems. Not a stir of air, not the faintest breeze, and yet the dreamy fan leaves appeared to be advancing in the light, to be turning toward a moment still to come.
     Is there one day of the year when the tilt of the earth, its distance from the sun, causes light to stream from every direction? When the last rays of evening are permitted to give back what has not yet been lost? When there descends a clarity so forgiving that everything is revealed at once?
     The young man turned to look at me as I passed and swept out his hand in a wide gesture that offered it all, the boundless earth itself – just as if it had been his to give. When I got to the end of the block and looked back, he was gone, but the intensity of the light on the trees, if anything, had deepened, and the sky was the tender blue usually seen only at the winter solstice. This is the life we cling to, I thought.