Let us now praise all things good about Memorial Day weekend. It goes without saying that those who live here year round usually stagger away from the first onslaught of the season complaining: “Oh my God,” or, “Help us! It’s begun,” or, yes, “It’s never, ever been worse!”
So what good things, you ask?
Let’s start with the State Department of Public Works having filled most of the potholes and smoothed out the main artery into and out of town. Huzzah! The gods of traffic, I observe, have favored East Hampton over Southampton, where delays for road work continued into the week.
And how about the rain . . . which didn’t cease until the weekend was almost over? Okay, rain may have put a hex on outdoor barbecues, but, on the other hand, it probably kept day-trippers, and the traffic they create, to a minimum, right?
I’m not entirely certain restaurateurs or hoteliers would consider a steady downpour a good thing, but various shopkeepers have told me over the years that when it pours, people hide inside the stores. So that cloud had a silver lining, right?
The rain also pushed the trees and bushes, finally, into full leaf. Home gardens are now overflowing with all the plants that survived the winter and the voracity of the deer. Bambi and company have just about destroyed the few rose bushes left in my backyard, but, on the other hand — I’m trying to stay on the bright side — I don’t remember the lilacs and narcissus and the irises ever being as lush.
Memorial Day is also a traditional time for old-home get-togethers. My husband and I swam against the tide this time, traveling away to spend time with family elsewhere. Getting out of town is nice, too.
As far as I am concerned, though, the absolutely best thing about Memorial Day weekend, rain or shine, is the reopening of farm stands and stands and farmers markets. Goodness, this is a land of plenty. Produce grown right here is suddenly abundant. Beautiful rhubarb, tall asparagus, big, bouncy lettuces . . . it’s almost impossible to resist any of it.
Some years, when spring has been warmer, local strawberries were ripe by Memorial Day. They weren’t ripe yet this year, true. But isn’t it pleasant to reflect that we don’t have to settle for hard, tasteless red orbs from — far, far — away? (Caveat emptor: If you notice your local gourmet grocer selling strawberries labeled as local later than mid-July, ask to see the crate they came in; false strawberry advertising has become a bit of a scourge.)
Another good thing about Memorial Day is that people who rent houses are past their annual rush, and can breathe for just a moment or two —at least long enough for a glass of wine on the porch. And the tradesmen who have been up to their eyeballs in stress trying to finish up plumbing jobs, pre-season landscaping chores, and the like, might possibly have a few hours free to work for their year-round customers again. I like that.
Another thing nice about the end of May is the fact that the days are just about as long as they will get. The summer solstice is only three weeks away. And it’s all downhill after that.