Summer’s Unofficial Start – The New York Times

When I picture time passing, I think of a calendar — specifically, a full-year calendar printed on one page, the sort that a bank or a restaurant might hand out as a freebie, emblazoned with its logo.

The year is laid out as a grid: three rows, four months to a row. I picture each row as seasons elapsing: The top row starts mostly cold and dreary with January, but by the end of the row, in April, it’s milder and brighter and there’s this feeling of almost arriving into the second row, where things open up. May through August is the marrow of the year, when daylight is at its maximum, when things feel a little looser and more possible. The middle row is, for summer partisans, really the only row worth languishing in.

However you picture time, you probably have a distinct feeling about this weekend, Memorial Day, summer’s unofficial start. Disbelief seems to be the prevailing response this year: How can it be summer again, where has the time gone? “Time’s a flat circle, a record spinning, always and forever returning to its start,” my colleague Sam Sifton wrote in the Cooking newsletter yesterday, and he’s right. We’re still figuring out the tricks time pulled over the past few years, how it stretched and contracted, sped up and slowed and there was, for a while there, time to contemplate it.

Ready or not, it’s summer again. The calendar has decreed it — even if the weather or your wardrobe or your kids or your garden aren’t ready. Memorial Day weekend forces a mind-set shift. Beaches open up, mattresses are on sale, you can smell someone grilling. (Maybe it’s you.) The middle row is in full swing.

If it all feels too abrupt and you’re struggling to catch up, might I suggest planning your summer movie schedule? I’ve been patiently awaiting Nicole Holofcener’s latest, “You Hurt My Feelings,” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies, which opens this weekend. Other highlights: John Slattery directs Jon Hamm and Tina Fey in “Maggie Moore(s),” opening on June 16. There’s a Wham! documentary coming to Netflix on July 5. “Indiana Jones” arrives on June 30, “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” on July 21.

We’ve also got a bunch of selections for your beach- or park- or couch-reading pleasure: Try a thriller, a romance, perhaps an audiobook? The two audiobooks on our list that are about birds sound enchanting and seasonally appropriate.

And of course, there’s always summer’s unofficial (or perhaps it’s official?) fruit, the strawberry, which stars in three Melissa Clark recipes, each of which seems poised to join Jerrelle Guy’s strawberry spoon cake in my personal pantheon of the world’s best desserts.

  • From 2019, 100 years of Memorial Day coverage in The Times.

  • If you find yourself in traffic this weekend, here’s a game to calm your nerves. (Back-seat drivers only.)

  • Or, listen to my story of the poem that brings me comfort when times are tough. It’s on New York Times Audio, a new iOS app that Times news subscribers can download here.

📚 “Genealogy of a Murder: Four Generations, Three Families, One Fateful Night” (Tuesday): I can’t wait to dive into Lisa Belkin’s true crime tale that charts the histories of three men involved in a 1960 murder. In his review in The Times, Robert Kolker called it “a somewhat knotty yet exhilarating, intimate study of fate, chance and the wildly meaningful intersections of disparate lives.” Doesn’t that sound enticing?

🎶 Cowboy Junkies, “Such Ferocious Beauty” (Friday): The Canadian alt-country band Cowboy Junkies has a new album coming out. If you, like me, can still sing every word to every song on the group’s 1988 album “The Trinity Session,” you’ll be happy to know that Margo Timmins’s voice is as melancholy and enchanting as ever.

It’s Memorial Day Weekend, the official start to cookout and picnic season. That means there’s a good chance you’re contemplating deviling some eggs for nibbling while the grill heats up. You can’t go wrong with this classic recipe, filled with egg yolks, mayonnaise and mustard spiked with hot sauce. You can boil and peel the eggs the day before, and even mix together the filling. But don’t spoon it into the whites until as close to serving time as possible. And be sure to make extra: You never know how long it might take for those coals to catch.

What you get for $2.7 million: A Carpenter Gothic showplace in Shelter Island Heights, N.Y.; an 1890 home in Key West, Fla.; or a midcentury-modern house in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

The hunt: She wanted a home in the Hamptons for $4 million. Which one did she choose? Play our game.

Lighting for summer nights: Outdoor lighting makes everything more magical.

Solo bachelorette: Some brides are ditching the parties in favor of a trip alone.

Digital spring cleaning: Try these tips for healthier engagement on social media.

Hold it together: Make comfort food and ditch the to-do list.

Joy around the world: What are the happiest countries doing right?

If your long-weekend plans include tidying your home for summer guests, give your vacuum some T.L.C. to make it more effective — even the best model won’t clean well if you don’t occasionally tend to it. Glutted dustbins, stinky filters, and hair tangles reduce suction and can lead to the premature death of battery and motor. Simple, routine maintenance, like cleaning the filter and untangling the brush roll, will keep your vacuum running for years and save money over time. — Sabine Heinlein

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Tampa Bay Rays, M.L.B.: Enjoy some baseball with your Sunday morning coffee. The Rays have the best record in the majors this season, and it’s not a fluke — by some measures, they have the top offense and the best starting pitching, Eno Sarris notes in The Athletic. The Dodgers, who lead their division, are thriving thanks to Mookie Betts, an All-Star outfielder who was asked to play shortstop because of injuries on the team and turned out to be great at it. 11:30 a.m. Eastern tomorrow, streaming on Peacock.

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