THE PERFECT COOL sleeping air had stolen an hour or more from the ever-dwindling supply of perfect daylight. A breeze came up in greeting as the front door opened. The clouds to the north were tranquil and fleecy, while the ones to the south burned silver-white around their edges. Festive scarecrows perched under a sidewalk shed, but there was only a faint dullness in the greenery on the street around them to suggest that autumn might be anywhere in view. A child sat on the sidewalk, tugging the end of the long, coiled tether tying it to a brunch. It was not worth the effort to think up an errand to justify, or interrupt, the walk up Broadway with the sun shining from behind and the breeze pressing from in front. On a different cross street, one honey locust was tipped with gold in places and the plane trees were yellowing. Just when the light got too warm and dazzling, one of the clouds interceded. An annual cicada lay struggling on its back outside the door, pale-bellied and seemingly doomed. Flicked gently sideways with a sneaker toe, though, it rolled and recovered itself and took wing all in one motion, zigging across the street in full flight, as though nothing had ever gone wrong.