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The Lake Comes Alive

I have lived on Chautauqua Lake now for 25 years. I have seen big Memorial Day weekends — but nothing like this year. The lake exploded with activity. It was like the Fourth of July!

It should not be surprising, I expect, because of the coronavirus “lock down” which has resulted in a heavy dose of “cabin fever” for everybody. The sun, blue sky and the water were just too much. Boats galore, water sports, fishing and aqua-partying of all kinds, and it went on for three days.

I wish I could say that everyone was social distancing, but that wasn’t the case. How can you social distance when you have five boats tied up next to each other at Sandy Bottom or 10 to 12 people cruising down the lake on a pontoon boat? There is no doubt that some were stretching the rules a bit. Yet, they were outside and there was plenty of breeze, so at least Mother Nature was cooperating in dispersing the breathing of all of the human beings so gathered.

If I were to give the weekend a rating of some kind relative to controlling the virus, I would call it a “cup half-full” not “half-empty.” Hogan’s Hut was jammed with people buying groceries, bait and fishing tackle. Yet, when they came in the door, they honored the admonition posted on the door — “Please wear a mask when entering!” — and they did. There was an understanding that being inside in an enclosed space and sharing your breath with other people was not to be taken lightly, not only for you but for the staff behind the cash registers. That’s the way this virus travels.

The state of New York has also encouraged people to walk (in only small groups) in the state parks, and at least one parking lot at Long Point State Park was jammed. There need to be “relief valves” in a crisis like this, and I expect that walking and hiking in our state parks is one of the best ways to be out-of-doors and safe.

There is still a dearth of activity in Bemus Point because restaurants and stores cannot be open. But, even there, people were walking and enjoying the sunshine, and there was boat-side, take-out service at the Village Casino so those docks were jammed with Sea Rays, Chris Crafts and jet skis.

I would expect that if one were out on Memorial Day weekend with family who had already been living in close quarters, then little will come in terms of infectious transmission. On the other hand, if a cousin from New York were along or Aunt Lucy from St. Louis happened to be visiting, then who knows?

I give Americans credit for having “battened down the hatches” over the past few weeks. It is not in our nature to restrict our personal movements. One thing I discovered being in “West Pac” (Western Pacific) in the Navy is that countries like Japan and China with high population densities have been living in close quarters for centuries. Those societies have it in their DNA that there need to be rules when people are living close together. In our country, people will restrict their movement but they need to be convinced of the reasoning behind it. So, we are slower at responding to a pandemic crisis.

One thing that the Memorial Day weekend did convince me of is that there is a great deal of “pent-up” energy out there. Once there is a vaccine or medical treatment in place that can provide safety and protection — people will be back to doing the things they love, including being together again.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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