Summer is Finally Here!

By Susan M. Songster-Weaver

Did you hear the story about the conversation between two friends? The one said to the other, “I love summer in Chautauqua County!”

“Really?” said the other.

“Yep,” the first one replied. “It was on a Sunday last year!”

All kidding aside, I thought this joke was going to ring true this year. With a frost in June, torrential rains, tornadoes and temps in the 40s at night, what else would a person think?  But finally, by the end of June, it seemed we are getting some beautiful summer weather. With at least two great weekends now under our belts, I am ready for some all-American outdoor picnics and parties here on Chautauqua Lake.

Burtis Bay is proving to be a very popular place as the weather improves. Kayakers are here almost every day. I watch them paddle by, two or three to a group. They seem to especially enjoy the magnificent sunsets that we are becoming well known for. Water skiers can be seen out there having the time of their lives. Tubers can be heard whooping it up as they bounce and fly over the waves. Pontoon boats, filled to the brim with smiling human cargo, slowly float by heading to the Rod and Gun Club or perhaps the new Harbor Hotel. Laughing children are running around chasing each other while their parents rest in the shade with a cold beverage. Everyone else is out on the docks, trying their luck with worms and lures to catch some tasty pan fish for supper.

Both of the rental houses near me have been full of happy visitors from Erie and Cleveland. Music is heard while games of lawn golf are being played. People are in their blow-up chairs floating near the docks. Nighttime brings campfires and s’mores with more music and laughter. All is good in the world.

I love the lake and everything that goes with it. My heart was bursting with joy the other morning when I woke up to a lovely sunrise. I stepped out onto my deck to take it all in. The sun was casting its magical glow on the world, promising a new day of hope and happiness, when I saw an amazing site. Out on the calm lake, as the blanket of morning fog was saying its good-byes, I saw a lone paddle boarder. A kindred spirit, I thought – someone who knows what pure joy is. Maybe later this week that will be me.

I have my dock in, and the boat is in the water just waiting for some anxious kids wanting to go for a ride. So far this summer, I have kayaked and swam in the lake, but I need to get my paddle board out there. I haven’t used it in two years because of the weeds and algae. I am hoping I can still stand up on it! Water skiing has always been my love, but I am a little leery to try it after having my knee replacement surgery. Maybe I will get brave enough if we have an especially calm day and have a trusted friend behind the steering wheel.    

As I am finishing up this article, my mind is wandering to the next few days. Family is invited here for the 4th of July holiday, my sisters are coming for the weekend and another family party is scheduled for Sunday. I’ve got cleaning and cooking to do, but with the lake and the weather so nice, I might just put off the work for a little bit. I might just grab a book and my lounge chair and go sit in the sun. They’ll understand, right? After all, what else is take-out for?

This summer, I hope you get to enjoy the weather and the area. We are blessed. See you on the water – and be sure to keep a lookout for me on that paddle board at dawn!

Susan M. Songster Weaver is retired teacher, nature lover and longtime CWC volunteer and supporter.

The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local not-for-profit organization 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 716-664-2166 or visit or


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