Thank goodness for traditions. Once established, they tend to give some order and expectations to your life. Many of mine involve quality time with my family. It makes me smile to think about Thanksgiving, Christmas and the summer holidays at the lake, especially Labor Day. For the last decade, I have enjoyed Labor Day with my sister Judy and her family.
The great-nieces and nephews are all grown up now, but they still troop in with smiles on their faces and their swimsuits and towels in their hands. We haul the kayaks and paddles out to the dock, and they are off! Depending on the numbers, we usually have to borrow a couple of boats from the neighbors to get the entire fleet in the water. Every year a couple of new faces show up because the kids always bring their friends to the lake - and I love it!
With every new visitor, I have to go over my "house rules," of which there are two. The first one is "have fun" and the second one is "no fighting." The nieces and nephews smile when I say this, and their friends know it is OK to enjoy themselves. Some of the newcomers haven't spent much time at a lake and need a few instructions about kayaking, paddle boarding and how to get in and out of the paddle boat. Most of them are great listeners and are soon out in the bay having a ball.
One Labor Day weekend tradition for the author is taking a photo of kids eating corn on the cob while sitting on a break wall on Chautauqua Lake.
This year, I got the paddle board out for the kids to play with. Two of my nephews are over 6 feet tall and had a little trouble staying afloat on my board. It was funny to watch them have all kinds of trouble and for their little 11-year-old sister to take off on it like a pro. She was the only one to catch any fish, too.
While the kids are out having fun on the lake, the adults finish preparing the food. We usually try to keep the meal simple but tasty, and corn on the cob is a must. This year we bought some of the best local corn I've ever had. Everyone helped with the shucking and cleaning. Then, we put it in the cooler and poured boiling water over it. I let it sit for about half an hour and it was done to perfection. Tradition comes into play again here as we get all the kids out on the break wall for the corn-eaters picture. The kids have grown and changed over the years and there's usually someone new along, but the picture always portrays one thing - a special, fun-filled day at the lake with loved ones.
A day at the lake isn't complete unless you get out the big motor boat for a ride. And, we were just about ready to go when the sky opened up and it poured. Sadly, the rain lasted the rest of the day. I guess everyone will just have to come back next year if they want to go for a ride. I can't begin to count the number of kids we've taught to water ski over the years or the number of hours of fun they've had on the tube. All I know is that the lake has provided so many good memories for so many people.
Traditions are wonderful, and I am thankful for mine. My only wish is for solutions to be found to deal with the algae and weed problems we face in Burtis Bay. There is just too much to lose if we don't. Enjoy your day, and see you on the water.
Susan M. Songster Weaver is retired teacher, nature lover and longtime CWC volunteer and supporter. The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local nonprofit organization that is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. For more information, call 664-2166 or visit www.chautauquawatershed.org or www.facebook.com/chautauquawatershed.