Having finally gotten through 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 in New York, of course, isn't always a walk in the park, because it isn't just a walk in the park. It's also an overlong wait on a steamy, urine-scented subway platforms, clothes chafing, tempers flaring and waves of heat rising from asphalt and concrete.

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

NYC's roof gardens are blooming and tomato plants are peeking out of the soil. The parks are green and full of promise, saturated with happy kids playing and teens and teens-at-heart enjoy recreating and plotting procreating. The High Line is at its best, the sidewalk cafes at their most enjoyable. Shakespeare in the Park begins on Wednesday. The Yankees and Mets are both in contention in late May. (Who'da thunk it?)

For many, workweeks relax and shorten a bit. Beaches 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.

There aren't many places to live tougher than New York City. There isn't one that's as worth the trouble.

So it's almost summertime, and it will be for quite a while. Let's hope the living is easy.