Just like that, the summer of 2022 is coming to an end. Wasn’t it yesterday that we hung our American flags as part of our 4th of July celebrations?
Most New York schools are back in session on the Tuesday after the long Labor Day weekend, a transition that feels more like a shock. One day are carefree days and youthful freedom. Next is getting on a yellow school bus and sitting in rows of desks.
Or for adults, going back to work because vacation days have run out.
Finger Lakes restaurants and tourist attractions are ready to shorten your post-holiday days and hours. And anyone who has a boat on the water wonders how long they will leave it there before it gets too dark, too cold, and too rainy.
The two most beautiful days of fall always seem to be the day I get my boat out of the water and the day after. Perhaps especially the next day. It’s depressing to see the neighbors sailing past the Valois family’s country house when my boat is put away for the winter.
But now, with climate change, more boats are staying until Thanksgiving or later, something unimaginable in my youth. Summer weather is starting to stretch into November. Over the past few years, I have watched jealous photos posted on social media of Hector’s friends enjoying a boat ride after eating their Thanksgiving dinners.
Unless it snows that day, of course. Another one of Mother Nature’s little tricks.
Growing up on Chautauqua Lake, the week after Labor Day was marked by boats disappearing from lifts or buoys, taken out for winter storage. The water temperature in early September in that shallow lake dropped very quickly, putting an end to water sports.
The temporary seasonal docks were also taken out of the water shortly after Labor Day. Chautauqua is very shallow, 10 to 20 feet deep, compared to most Finger Lakes. It freezes solid in winter, sometimes several feet thick. Permanently fixed docks are almost unheard of along the 17-mile-long lake from Jamestown to Mayville. The flimsy spring piers would not last a minute in New York because of the crushing of the ice that breaks up in the spring thaw. It’s amazing how quickly a two-foot-thick sheet of wind-driven ice can destroy even a solid, well-built pier.
As a teenager growing up in Lakewood, the annual post-Labor Day drill involved putting all the boats away, pulling the family dock and boat docks out of the water, then removing and storing the window screens, replacing them with shutters. .
Taking out the boats was always heartbreaking. He signaled that it was time to say goodbye to the summer friends returning to their winter homes outside the lake. And it meant goodbye to those long days of water skiing and just hanging out with friends on the lake. Pulling out the dock also meant getting into the freezing water and dismantling heavy sections of boards, removing the trestles they were standing on and stacking them on the shore. Removing the screen and putting up shutters meant swinging on a steep roof and dislodging a summer’s spiders.
In the Finger Lakes, summer often lasts longer than in Chautauqua. Summer days can easily stretch well into September. Sometimes it even leaks as late as early October. The boats in the family cabin usually stay on their lifts and remain ready to sail until the trees start to change color.
A long, gentle fall would be a nice ending to this summer’s sometimes erratic weather, including scorching heat for the week early on, followed by wild thunderstorms that rolled across Seneca Lake. I’m never ready for “back to school”. but a relief from the heat would also be nice.