Bondi Resort Blog

Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Maybe you Can Come Home Again!

Back in the day, as David likes to say, our summer guests would come for four to six weeks during the season. That of course was before all the labour saving devices and Jetson technologies were invented to make our lives more filled with leisure...

It was great. Especially for us kids... We grew up together. We got into endless trouble together. Seems like folks worried less and played more...

And one of those families that stayed most of the summers, year after year, was the McLarens. Last week, Gord McLaren dropped by -- it's been probably thirty years, maybe more since life pulled him out of childhood and away from summers at Bondi, but he and his wife Cathy were in the area and felt they simply had to stop by.

Gord went walkabout -- he remembered staying in several of the cottages, and while a great deal has changed, a greater deal remains, and we shared a whole lot of memories while walking along the beach, remembering Cook-outs of Years Gone By, when the fire-pit was practically on top of the dock, and other adventures.

There was the time, for instance, when the Cooke boys, Rick and Don, set up a tent on top of the hill for a little outdoor adventure while their parents were staying in Beaver. Paul Tapley and Don Cooke, their dad, snuck up there during the night with an old saw-horse and a bear skin. Draped the bearskin over the saw-horse and -- yep, you can see where this is going -- waited. Just as dawn was breaking and nature was nudging the boys out of bed, there was one long prolonged howl from the hilltop. As Brian remembers the scene, the pair only took about four big footsteps returning to the cottage. No doubt the fathers had scarred these kids for life, but it was fun.

Some of the capers we just don't dare repeat. But the Great Coon Hunt... now, that one lived on in history -- and in Gord's memory. Raccoons now have reputations of being cute little bandits, but if you've ever had to clean up after them, you might change your tune. Back then, with no municipal garbage dump and a lot less environmental awareness, raccoons were more than a small nuisance. The men-folk got out the guns, and four raccoons were removed from the scene. Which is when the kids all arrived on the scene.

Gord didn't quite believe when I told him we had a photo of that... so here it is. That would be Brian, holding the gun... (and yes, I'm in the picture too... omg!!! But I hasten to add that I don't remember it very clearly!) With us, John and Randy Foster, Dennis Bradford (who's coming to stay with us in September, after a long absence also!) Don Cooke, Gord, and Rick Cooke.

We also stood by the main dock, reminiscing about the year when the Rock Cut on Port Cunnington Road was dynamited. We all gathered to watch the occasion. I stood there, watching, at a location my Dad thought would be safe. When it blew, rocks from the detonation came through the deck of one of the cedar strip boats tied up at the main dock... A little belated, Dad suggested we all move back. We still have that boat. And it still has the patch on the deck from the rock. Good times!

Those were the days! It was great to welcome Gord and his wife back to Bondi. Like all families with great memories, it's as if they've never really left, and we hope they'll come and stay with us again, to forge some new memories that are just as precious.

Forest Art

Last summer, on a nature hike, Jordana, Daniella and Aaron were introduced to the Artist's Fungus. We brought some home, and they created some great pictures on them.

The underside of these fungus provides a unique 'canvas' -- you can allow them to dry, and then paint them, or you can (as Jordy did here) etch on the surface. Any mark made on the creamy underside will immediately turn a dark brown, and the fungus will dry with that mark on it, creating almost permanent works of art.

There are some of these in American museums that date back to the Civil War -- if they are kept dry, they last and last and last.

Over the years, several of our guests have created wonderful pictures and memories on these, and we have several examples of them on display in the barn rec room and in the office. There is no shortage of these growing in our woods, and the damp summer has ensured that they are in a plentiful state, so taking some is not an issue.

The kids found an absolutely enormous one, which they carefully harvested, and took home for Mom!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Art Blooms

Every August our long time friend and guest Jean Rosati drops by, setting up on the lawn by the office with her beautiful artwork.

Napster the cat felt that it was imperative that the entire process be adequately supervised, and undertook the task of ensuring that the premises were secure.

Lots of our guests came by to chat with Jean, and admire her work. Jean works in watercolours, with a wide variety of subjects. While many pieces detail flowers, others capture the essence of the Muskoka north. This year she had a lovely painting of Marsh's Falls, and the quiet winding river below. And -- Nancy's favourite this year -- a tall colourful painting of the autumn colours.

We have several of her pieces hanging in our cottages -- we are always delighted to support the creative efforts of our friends!

Last year, two of the guests got into a bidding war over one of her paintings -- all very amicable, but quite exciting as it turned into a mini-auction.

This year lacked such monetary fireworks, but Gerry did scoop up a painting of the rhododendrons to take home. We expect it will be on display in their cottage for the rest of their stay!

Tussock Tiger Moth

We’re more used to seeing the Monarch caterpillars munching away on the milkweed. This summer, they have been slow to make an appearance: the cooler than usual temperatures in July had an effect on them.
These beautiful caterpillars, who turn into stunningly beautiful butterflies, are not the only milkweed munchers around.

Yesterday, Aaron, Danzi and Jordy found these fuzzy ones snacking on the jewelweed and milkweed by the Lodge main door. They are sociable, so it's easy to find several of them together. These are tussock tiger moths in training, and they are totally cool.

The milkweed tussock caterpillar or milkweed tiger moth, is a moth in the family Arctiidae. (you can look it up!) They are one of 260 different species of tiger moths found in North America, and are a common mid to late summer feeder. Unlike monarchs, they don’t limit themselves to milkweed on the menu. Ours were also nibbling away quite happily on Jewelweed. The milkweed, however, is the ticket if you don’t want to end up on a menu yourself -- and the toxins they ingest from the milkweed provide a chemical defense against predators. Their vivid colouration helps to advertise this to hungry birds. The defense mechanism lasts into their adult phases as well – when the moths become a food source for bats as well. What toxins, you ask? Well, milkweed contains cardiac glycosides – you don’t want to eat too much of that, and it takes a very high concentration to deter a hungry bat.

Since bats are hunting by radar, and may not notice colouration as a deterent, the moths have upped their game. Both the caterpillar phase and the adult moth have tymbal organs (think, “tympanic”, a bit like your eardrum) on their abdomens. Spring moths use these to listen for the approaching radar “pings” of hunting bats. Late summer and autumn moths, however – those dealing with bats that are very aggressive and hungry because they are feeding their young – use this organ to create a clicking noise. By flexing the tymbal organ, sort of like bending a tiny piece of plastic, they can mimic the radar ‘ping’ of hunting bats. This serves to disorient the bats, and allows the moth a window of opportunity to fold their wings and drop to the ground.

Even these fuzzy caterpillars can create a tiny clicking noise to deter predators, although you’d have to be very close and very quiet to hear them with our ears. Handy little things, tymbal organs, they can also be used to sing love songs during mating season. Pity our own eardrums aren’t quite so multi-purpose!

Some people dislike the tussock (or milkweed) tiger moth caterpillar, thinking that it competes for food with the ever popular and showy Monarch butterflies. In fact, monarchs like to snack on young milkweed. Tussock moths chomp their way through older, mature foliage that wouldn’t be acceptable to the discerning tastes of the monarchs. Eating milkweed is a tricky process all the same, since the plant has its own defense mechanism in the form a sticky “milky” latex sap that can stick your caterpillar mouth shut if you don’t take care. Young caterpillars will carefully avoid eating the veins of the milkweed, turning the leaves into lacy skeletons. Older moths are even more canny creatures – they will cut a vein of the milkweed, so the milky sap runs out along the stem and they can then eat the entire leaf above the cut without all that messiness.

The adult moth has yellowish-gray white wings, with bands of beige on the forewings. The body is ‘hairy’, and yellow, with a row of black dots down the middle of the back. It is this yellow and black colouration that gives the moth the name “tiger.” At rest, they fold their wings like a tent over their bodies, and the wings provide good camouflage.

Tiger moths stick around all winter, over-wintering in fuzzy gray cocoons that can frequently be found if you turn over logs on a hike in the woods.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Barn Swallows, Nest #3, Here we Go!

Yesterday our baby barn swallows stepped gingerly out of the nest, jostled, peered over the ledge, sized up the doorway and carried on long involved conversations with their parents about the feasibility of the whole project.

That lasted most of the morning. Shuffle to the left. Shuffle to the right. Peer into the great void below...
Climb back into the nest (where they really no longer fit). Rest and repeat.

About lunchtime, one of them took his courage in both wings and gave it a try. Off the ledge. Into thin air, wings going a mile a minute.

They could fly. They just couldn't steer. And landing was an issue. One took refuge on the roof of the chicken coop.

But by late afternoon, they'd got it almost down pat.

They'd sail about, with both parents in close attendance, then rip back into the stable, and hop back in the nest for a quick nap.

Learning to fly, after all, is exhausting.

They've done very well -- but they are late. It's the end of August, and the rest of our swallows have gathered and gone already. They normally migrate in big flocks -- flying up to 900 km a day, and they are on their way to South America. That's a migration of around 11,000 km.

The young birds learn their parents' voices, and can recognize each other even in a large flock. That's what all that twittering in the barn has been about -- getting to know each other.

We'll let you know when they head south. Since swallows can fly up to 600 km a day even when they are just about their daily swallow business of catching mosquitoes, migration isn't so much about how far they fly, as about the fact that they fly in a straight line instead of swooping in and out of the stable, looping over the cornfield, writing their names on the clear summer air...

Jarvis' Loon

Jarvis was here from Hong Kong, staying with his Aunt.

He sent us these pictures of the loon and her chick, cruising in Bondi Bay.

The loons would be looking for fish at least a little bit smaller than the one Laura pulled in!

When we see loons, and herons, and mergansers congregating in the bay, we know there are fish there. It's always a happy sign to see them. Without the little fish, you simply can't get the big fish.

The Fish in the Sea. Or at least in the Lake.

Graham sent us this picture of his sister,Laura, with the one that did NOT get away.

We just liked the silhouette, against the evening light...

Not to mention receiving proof that Laura Rules as the fishing wizard this summer. BIG fish!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Island Swim and the Art of Zen

Every Thursday morning, all summer long, we gather on the Main Dock for the Marathon Swim. Some folks swim to the rocky Point -- 500 metres. Some swim there and back -- 1 km., and there are usually a few who want to tackle the Island, 1 km. away. There are always -- god bless 'em -- more folks who come to canoe, paddleboat, row, follow in their fishing boats, kayak and just generally make sure that there are plenty of safety boats out there on the water for everyone.

Some of our swimmers are strong and experienced. Some are younger, and perhaps tackling this distance for the first time. This week, Victoria (7) and Aaron (9) were our youngest.

The lake was a mirror, and there were no other boats about when we collectively hit the water. (I'm waiting for payback, since Tom sort of lingered on the dock, and I 'encouraged' him to leave the dry portion...)(yes, I helped push him in!!)

Chris and Alison were the only two to tackle the island this week, with the water at 74 degrees F.

I rowed with them, and I'm not sure how much attention I was paying to them, because in the still clear water, every time I dipped in the oar, it landed exactly where the sun was reflecting... and it left a perfect line of circles in its wake... and I was practically hypnotized by the whole experience.

All the same, they swam strongly home, as did all those on the Point Swim (supervised ably by Dave and Mike on the BBQ barge -- footnote: the bbq is ready for installation, has undergone field trials, and whipped up a batch of bbq'd waffles with syrup, and an evening 'dinner cruise' is now anticipated)

What a wonderful start to a wonderful day!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Essence of Algonquin. Click.

Ever wonder why some people seem to effortlessly capture photographs like these... and you, well, capture images more like the ones I seem to get?

Well, wonder no longer. Autumn is approaching, and with it comes the fantastic autumn colours, moose with their huge rack of antlers, breathtaking skies and sunsets... and a Photography Workshop with our neighbour and professinal photographer Debbie Bradley.

You can join Deb in Algonquin Park, on Thursday October 1; and again on Saturday October 17th, for a workshop on Capturing the Essence of Algonquin.

Now, don't panic, if you don't know an F-stop from a Stop sign... or if your digital camera has more dials and settings than the International Space Station... Deb can walk you through it.

It's $50 if you are Friend of Algonquin Park. $62 if you're not -- but that gets you a one-year membership to the Friends of Algonquin, so it's all good.

In addition to Debbie, you get the compnay of a Park Naturalist, a workshop booklet and a registration package courtesy of Cavalcade Color Lab.

613 637 2828 ex 277 will connect you to Sophie, who's handling the registration. It's quite limited, so step it up.

And, since this is a one day workshop, what better than to stay with us at Bondi Village for a few days, so you can enjoy our own private wilderness and wildlife, check out the view from the Lookout of the autumn colours and put into practice all the good stuff Debbie will teach you?

Holly and her Angel

When you are a resort dog, as Holly was for almost 17 years, you make a LOT of friends.

So all summer long, as our long-time guests returned to Bondi, she was remembered. Sometimes a flower. Sometimes a hug. Sometimes just a quiet moment shared.

And sometimes, with a picture. Like this one -- one of my favourites, that Nora, age 5, drew for me.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's the Bee's Knees

That was an old fashioned expression that meant something was really cool. Or, in the current jargon, 'sick'.

But here, it means the bees are hard at work. Sue N. took this great shot of a bee gathering pollen in one of Carol's hollyhocks.

Before you go, "Ew... a yucky bee," you should pause and reflect. One third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination, most of which is accomplished by bees, especially the domesticated European honey bee. Fuzzy bees, like this, carry a mild electrostatic charge, which helps the pollen stick to them. From time to time, the bee will pause and pack the pollen into the scopa, or pollen baskets, on their legs or abdomens.

Bees are famous for their 'dances' on the hive, which let other bees know what direction and how far to fly to find the best food source. Bees make honey -- not just sweet and wonderful on toast or in tea with lemon, but also with strong antibacterial properties. Bees ensure that the wildflowers and fruit trees get pollinated.

They are struggling globally, with too much pesticide and insecticide and monoculture agriculture. We're happy to have these enjoying the flowers in our organic garden, floating about in our fields and forests, doing what bees were meant to do.

And literally rolling in the pollen! This is a wonderful shot of the pollen sticking to the bee and being carefully packed into the pollen baskets, to be taken home to the hive and fed to the young bees! (Not to mention a great shot of the bee's knees poked out to the sides as she packs on the pollen!)

Thanks for sharing the photo with us Sue!

Hi Speed, Long Distance, Close Contact, Slow Chat

Yeah, yeah, we totally understand why people want or need access to high speed internet these days, and yes, indeedy, we've got High Speed available. Still, we're always crossing our fingers that while people are here they will unplug, will step away from the two dimensional screen and step out into the "real" world, complete with rain showers, frogs in ponds, deer on the lawn, turkey feathers on the disc golf course and even the occasional bear... We hope they'll encourage their kids to explore, create, get wet, get dirty, touch their world.

Still, sometimes you just have to justify having all this technology, and today Paige found a really good reason...

She combined sitting on the lawn in the sun with a long, cheerful Skype conversation with her sister... who even got to see Achmed in real time when he dropped by to check the connection.

And if doing that can let you enjoy the Great Outdoors for even just a little longer, then it's worthwhile.

Getting that Boomerang BACK!

Grandpa and Uncle Dave hand-crafted the boomerang. So, when it got lodged WAAAAAAY up there in a wild cherry tree where only the pileated woodpeckers go, there was a small panic.

Nora was emphatically NOT going home until Dad rescued her boomerang.

Which lead to James heroically practising his Olympic Javex-bottle-on-a-ski-rope-toss technique until he was able to latch onto the appropriate limb. Much tugging and jostling ensued, with encouragement from Leslie and little Vivian (who were safely watching from the sidelines)

But at last -- SUCCESS! Reluctantly reunited with the family, (evidently even boomerangs just hate to leave the cottage at the end of their vacation) the boomerang was proudly displayed, and then headed off home.

Until next summer. When it may have learned to hide even farther up the tree so it can stay...

Dropping By to Say Hello

Cleaning a cottage on Sunday, I was surprised when fellow Muskoka blogger Jenn Jilks popped her head round the door to say "Hi!" Her cottage is near Bala -- and she's got some scary photos on her site of the big storm that ripped through last Thursday. We were blessed enough not to be hit by that one, except for two inches of rain falling in half an hour, but our hydro stayed on and our trees stayed standing!

What a fun change from visiting virtually! Although I must say Jenn put up a lovely post on her Blog about Bondi Village and our property tour!

We had a great (but too short) visit, while her hubbie perused the map -- it is his contention that allowing Jenn to navigate takes them a little farther from the beaten track that he intended. On the other hand, that is how you find great things, out there on the roads less traveled or as the accidental tourist! Since I have the dubious distinction of being 'lost' in places where there really is only one road, I cannot honestly comment on map-reading skills...

Jenn tried hard to get some photos of our late-nesting swallows, but they were less than co-operative. So yesterday, I spent some time near the nest with camera in hand, and got these shots of Mom and her hungry brood.

The rest of our swallows have already flown away, leaving these to catch up somewhere along the way. The 'kids' look almost ready to hop out of the nest...

Come again, Jenn and Brian! It was great to have a visit!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Loon Chick

The loon chick has graduated from riding around on Mom's back to floating along in her wake.

He's still not quite up to speed on this 'diving thing', but he's figured out how to poke his head underwater to watch for fish -- and for Mom down there hunting. The loon's red eye helps it to see underwater, where the light levels are very low.

Jarvis assured us that he got a fabulous photograph of the pair of them, but he can't send it to us until he gets home -- and he lives in Hong Kong! -- so we're still waiting on that.

These were pictures Nancy took from the kayak, with a zoom lens, because it's a bad plan to get too close to the young loons. It puts a lot of stress on them, and then they require a lot more food (loons evidently eat when stressed...) which makes life harder for the parents. It's a good rule of thumb to stay 300' away, and if the parents start to vocalize when you are near, back away from them.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Memories that Last

A shower of rain this morning did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of our guests for the Marathon Swim. With the lake at 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and with more boats than swimmers this week, we set off for the Point. That's 500 metres away, and we swim there and back.

Joining us for the first time this week was Henri, who swam back from the Point with his mom Kathryn.

Henri is five years old. He's had a busy week, collecting eggs with Grandpa, getting a ride on Squeegee the Pony, and spitting a popcorn seed 7'9" at the Wiener Roast.

Swimming all the way from the Point with Mom, though, now that is a memory. He'll forget the sprinkle of rain, but he'll remember that swim!

Way to go, Henri!

Out where the Disc Golf Course Ends

Barry and Jane have their own cottage near Dorset, but every summer they are here organizing the Lake of Bays Association Silent Boat Rally in July. On those short visits -- while they are hard at work ensuring everything goes smoothly for the boat rally and accompanying BBQ -- they have taken the opportunity to meet the horses, the chickens, look for bluebirds (unsuccessfully) along the fence line, and admire the deer on the lawn.

This week, Adrienne and her mom Dana were visiting, and Barry called to see if they could come over and say hello to the horses and chickens. Sure. Come on down!

Nancy took them walkabout -- Adrienne helped the chickens with their race training, encouraging them to run sprints at the barn while the onlookers howled with laughter. (Chickens seem to the be only ones who take this chicken racing thing seriously) Then, since Barry and Jane have heard about the Disc Golf course but never had the time to see it, we went for a walk into the back fields. While we began and ended on the 9-hole Disc Golf course, we did wander away from that, into the big back field, which is magic.

We found two old fence lines, one made entirely of boulders and big rocks, hand-picked from the fields by the orginal settler back in the mid 1850's; and this one, a split cedar rail fence, over a century old, that winds picturesquely through the forest, dappled with moss and sunshine.

Adrienne spotted several deer, but we were probably making too much noise, and it was too early in the day for the big numbers of deer to be out. Nancy's counted 14 deer in that field recently on an evening stroll.

Bluebirds came out to say hello -- we spotted several, along with all sorts of other birdlife, so Barry and Jane finally got to see their bluebird! We also spotted the 'beakwork' of the pileated woodpeckers, and found a hairy woodpecker nest.

Adrienne collected wild turkey feathers as we wandered through the blackberries and wild sage. They are considerably larger than the feathers she collects from her pet birds at home!

Achmed, our ginger terror, came with us every step of the way, in racing bursts of speeed, and flopping down to pant in the heat at our feet when we paused. He complained loud and long when we got too far ahead of him, and busily pointed out details we might otherwise have been too high up to spot -- such as some lovely 'British redcoat' lichen on one of the old logs. Back home, Achmed told Napster all about the walk, then just sort of flopped down on the step to rest up for his next adventure.

Leaving the Nest

Aidan and Ciaran came running to fetch Nancy this week, leaving Colette on guard near their cottage. The boys had found a baby swallow on the ground, being pecked by a bluejay.

Now, while that might be Nature's way, we're always ready to intervene for baby birds, who may just need a few extra hours to collect their strength for that first flight. The bluejay won't go hungry, with the field of sunflowers ripening in the garden. And gracious knows the cats need no part of baby birds.

We fetched a small cardboard box, and put the little guy out of harm's way, close to the nest where Mom Swallow could find him.

Happy ending! By the following day he had flown safely away, and will be heading south with the rest of our swallows.

Well, the rest of our swallows except for the late crew in the stable, where Mom barn swallow opted to try for a second nesting. Those little hungry mouths are working hard to grow quickly, but they are not ready to fly yet, not by half, so they will not be going south when the rest of our swallows leave.

Traditionally, August 20 is the date for the birds to fly away on their journey to South America. Sometimes they've been here as late as August 24th, but we're watching this tiny family, with fingers crossed, because they won't be on time for that. This means they will be travelling on their own, and not in the safety of a large flock, so we wish them well.

Thunderclouds make a Backdrop

Brian had just come back from a short flight with his Piper Cub float plane last week, when he phoned Nancy from the beach.

"Got your camera? Then get a picture of that thunderhead over Lumina... But hurry."

Grabbing camera, and hurrying, the cloud was still changing, but still very impressive. It provided a wonderful background to a photo of Paul Tapley's memorial bronze statue of a red tail hawk. This work of art was created by Brenda Wainman Goulet, to celebrate Paul's love of flying.

Pilots learn very early never to fly into or close to one of these, so we were glad Brian was safely back on the ground before the storm cloud passed us by!

We get wonderful skies here, wonderful cloud formations -- but blessedly we are not in a hurricane zone, and only once have we had a tornado come anywhere close to us!