MAPLE SPRINGS - The essence of the renewing power of life on Chautauqua Lake has been captured by a Maple Springs resident.
Beth Peyton, author of "Clear Skies, Deep Water: A Chautauqua Memoir," offers a firsthand, detailed account of the transformation her family experienced following a year of devastating personal and financial loss. Peyton attributes the renewal to life on Chautauqua Lake.
Peyton, her husband, Jeff Hunter, and their dog, have called Maple Springs home for more than two years, but their relationship with the lake began back in the 1990s. Peyton, her husband, and their kids first discovered the location as tourists staying at the Maple Springs Lake Side Inn. They enjoyed the area so much that they eventually invested in a townhouse to serve as a part-time getaway. However, hard times soon fell upon the family, which is where the inspiration for the memoir stemmed.
"Both of our moms died in the same year - my husband's and mine," Peyton said. "(Jeff) also lost his business that year, so we didn't know what to do and we decided to move to the lake because we loved it. We didn't know what was going to happen, but we knew that we wanted to be in a place that we loved."
Although the family lost the business, they didn't have to file bankruptcy, but they were close, Peyton said. They sold both the townhouse and their primary home to buy a cottage in Maple Springs that needed a lot of work.
"We did a lot of work ourselves, and now we have a lovely place in a lovely little community," Peyton said. "That's what the book explores, what exactly is it about this place that made it feel like home."
Part of what attracted Peyton and Hunter to Maple Springs was the beauty, but mostly, she said, it was that it felt restorative.
"It wasn't just the beauty of this place that drew us, it was the warm people and the sense of community," Peyton said. "We walk, sit on porches and get to know each other. It was rituals like the Labor Day party, the Fourth of July parade and fireworks at Midway. We felt welcomed here, and accepted in the community when we needed it most."
Hard copies of "Clear Skies, Deep Water" are currently available at the Chautauqua Bookstore, 67 Bestor Plaza in Chautauqua. Both e-book versions and hard copies can also be ordered on SUNY Press' website at www.sunypress.edu.