After we survived a winter that seemed endless, it's only fair that we're going to have a longer-than-usual summer season. Here's hoping it's also luxurious, lovely, and full of laughter, lounging . . . and low humidity.

The unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day, is always on the final Monday in May. On average, the holiday falls on May 25 every seven years, the earliest possible date. Anytime that happens, Labor Day, always the first Monday in September, falls on the seventh of that month, the latest possible date to signal the unofficial end of summer.

Summer on Long Island, of course, isn't always a perfect day at the beach, because it isn't just peaceful moments whiled away with the waves. It's also a mortifying traffic jam anywhere near those waves, which is . . . everywhere. It's heat joining up with humidity to deliver a one-two punch of sweaty annoyance.

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Most of the time, though, that still beats the shorts off February: towering snowbanks, knifing winds and menacing roads. And it's also far better than the false hope of a March that cruelly mimics February, or a traitorous, chilly April.

Flowers are blooming and tomato plants are peeking out of the soil. The winds are gentle right now, the air refreshing. And the Yankees and Mets are both in contention in late May. (Who'da thunk it?)

For some, workweeks relax and shorten a bit. Backyard barbecues beckon, and the Belmont Stakes could produce the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. There will be get-togethers with family and friends, leisurely walks, new memories made, old ones recalled fondly.

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Long Island can be a tough place to live, particularly in the winter. But it's worth the trouble, particularly in the summer. So it's almost summertime, and it will be for quite a while.

Let's hope the living is easy.