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.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Takin' a Break from the Microphone

Mark comes up on weekends, sets up his radio station in the cottage, and broadcasts his very own program. Radio WMRK. You can find him Saturday and Sunday, at 104.7 FM, if you are within range. (he reports pretty good reception as far away as Dwight, and across the bay, as well as beyond Lumina, so have a go and tune him in!)

WMRK plays 'all the oldies, all the times', the tunes from back in the days when the records spun, rather than the politicians. When summers were for the Beach Boys, and the British invasion was unopposed. It's all good stuff...

Mark has the ability to broadcast live as well, providing weather commentary, time checks, little snippets of information.

This afternoon he was at the stable checking up on the reception, and took a break to feed some carrots to the deer, who like to hang around, pilfering the chicken feed, and (we're pretty sure) listening to the radio. , if you've got a request, or a kind comment, will get you directly to the King of Spin himself!

The ultimate Hybrid

Squeequee's person Judy has two of the local Junior A Hockey team players staying with her this winter. Jacob, when he gets the chance away from practice, workouts and work, likes to come with her to the stable and pitch in. (Today he learned about Her a'Laying, the Loft Chicken, and how to collect the eggs from her special nest) Today his mom and sister were here, too -- Jocelyn got introduced to Bailey and learned how to groom. Bailey loves attention -- his nose and tongue are always busy when someone is scratching those itchy places on his back, and from the look of this, Jocelyn hit the sweet spot for him!
Jacob had to leave early -- there was a game this afternoon, but Judy stayed on. She recently acquired a harness for Squeegee.
He is, sad to report, an in-between size when it comes to fitting: mini-pony tack is a tad too snug. The next size up is waaaay too big... Never mind, we've managed to make it work.
And Judy has begun to make him work. The plan here is to acquire a small cart, and get Judy off the gasoline merry-go-round. Squeegee's footprint on the planet is much smaller. We know... we've seen 'em along the driveway!

Bondi Babes get their groove back on!

The Bondi Babes are back. The girls come over in November, from Oakhurst Farm, near Ashton. Oakhurst is one of Ontario's premiere eventing stables, and Ruth and Joan like to have this weekend to step away from all of that and have a Girls' Getaway.
Lots of games, challenges, chilling and good food is on the program. They vary the experience every year. This year Emilie, our on-call masseuse, set up in the library on Saturday to ensure those who arrived a little stressed soon were converted into being very mellow.
A nature hike is always on the agenda -- and this year we had lovely weather, with the sun breaking through, not very cold, and not too wet. The artists in the crowd - which was most of them - were quite taken with the abundance of the Artist's Fungus, and since there was so much in the forest, we brought home several. Nancy is looking forward to seeing what gets created on these!
There was a lot of lichen on display, too, including this lovely 'British Redcoat', and the plentiful 'Staghorn'. Both take their name from their appearance -- the British Redcoat is said to represent the British troops, in their bright red jackets, during the American Revolution, lining up in the green fields. The staghorn needs litte explanation - it looks like a tangled field of antlers.
Sunday the girls blitzed Huntsville - where they found great shopping, unique stores, and plenty of Christmas gift ideas.

Going Nuts

Gord, our good friend from Beauview Cottages writes that he is 'going squirrelly waiting for the snow'. He even sent along his "self portrait"

We know how he feels. Brian has been working hard on the ski trails here -- we've got a new loop for this winter to add to the almost 20 k we've already got. We're also keen to get out on that with our skis.

David came by Nancy's to abscond with her downhill skis to get them sharpened and waxed (not that this will help: she can still only turn really well in one direction) Hidden Valley has all their snow guns standing by, ready to go.

Yesterday, it did snow, but not for long. It's coming though, it's coming.

Meanwhile, Gord is entertaining himself watching the red squirrel burglarize the bird feeders. These little guys are entertaining -- watching them figure out the squirrel-proof bird feeders that sell for almost three figures is a sport in itself. Takes them about three minutes, and they've got it down to a science.

Of course, if you get close, they'll scold, and stamp their feet, sometimes becoming so agitated that they fall off the branch. The unusual mild spell is also providing great opportunities to get out and walk -- to go, if you will, 'squirrel watching.'

And the milder weather is giving Gord lots of extra time to be sure the attic is barricaded against their entrance. There's always a silver lining...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Small Treasures

Days shorten... and for some reason it always seem to get darker, drearier even before the sun sets as November winds its way into December. We need snow -- sparkling, white, catching and returning the light. There is a great deal to be said in favour of seasons. That cold weather is great for eliminating unwanted germs, for instance.
But there are still little miracles, small treasures even on the rainy days. Like this little fellow, snuggled into the fallen leaves at the water's edge.
And every day brings us closer to the Winter Solstice, whereafter days will begin to lengthen again.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Do the Funky Chicken

We have increased the flock. We've also reduced the flock, so the end numbers come out the same -- no, we didn't have chicken soup, we sent six chickens down the road to live at Foxwood, where hopefully the Fox that gives the place its name won't eat them like it did the last lot they had.

In their place, we have acquired six Ameraucana chickens. These are funky chickens indeed. One looks, as David describes, like a cross between a vulture and a pigeon. The rest look like a pheasant dropped over some dark night... All of them have magnificent tails. All have slate gray legs, minimal combs (described as Pea Combs), and fluffy faces framed by 'muffs and beards'.

This breed was developed in North America from the original Auracana chicken in South America -- Auracanas have no tails, and are one vertebrae short of a spine (David rather rudely comments that the birds we possess are one brain cell short of a pair, but let that pass)

Why on earth would we want one, let alone six, of these? Well, they lay coloured eggs. Yes, yes, we know... white is a colour. Brown is a colour. But these eggs range from an off white cream to a greeny blue tint. It's just the shell -- the egg is the same, but every now and then we find a green egg! It's like having Dr. Seuss living in the rafters...

Taking the Plunger

It began with an academic journey -- Jan Yorke embarked on the journey to secure her PhD. Now, some of you will remember Jan, who's little black horse Versace hung out here all last summer. Jan teaches at Georgian College -- doing a lot with the courses in policing. Her academic friends have a tradition: when someone embarks on their doctorate, they are awarded a ceremonial plunger, to help them deal with the, well, with the administrative "stuff" they are going to encounter on the way. All doctorates are complicated things. Jan's dealt with horses, and people -- the interaction, the changing stress levels each produces on the other, how people use their horses to help them recover from accident or injury.

This month, Jan successfully defended her thesis at the University of Tennessee, and can now add that coveted bunch of letters behind her name. Congratulations Dr. Jan! To celebrate, her friends awarded her the coveted "Pewter Plunger", a fabulous antique, heaven knows where they scared it up, to decorate her mantle piece and remind her of the trials and tribulations of academia.

The original plunger, duly signed by all it's doctoral successes, is now on her friend Jeff's mantlepiece. Jan's glad to be passing it along -- and hoping that now she can find some time to get back to riding her horse, maybe even coming back up to Bondi for some R&R!

Friday, November 20, 2009

November Sunsets

Another glorious sunset -- this was two days ago, and yes that red sky at night was indeed followed by a day of delightful weather.

Not so much today... November's dark side has surged to the forefront, and it is the kind of gray, rainy, dour weather often associated with the month.

All the same, we shouldn't forget that November brings sunsets like these... it's all good.

I could pass on the rain, though. Bring on the snow! You can PLAY with snow, in a way that is almost impossible when it comes to playing with rain...

The lie of the land

Here's another of Brian's photos from his last flight. One of the cool things about this is how you can see the shape of the land -- often that's hidden by the leaves. This time of year you can see right down to the shape of the land beneath. That's Ten Mile Bay in the background again.

And this picture is mine -- Brian, with the sun on his wings, just before take-off.

Jackie and I were down on the dock watching him warm up the plane (and watching the two cats face off against each other, one at each end of the dock)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eye in the Sky

It's not all that common for Brian to be able to get up in his plane at this time of year. The weather frequently conspires against float plane pilots...

But he got airborne yesterday!

This is a little different viewpoint -- often we get photos looking across Bondi towards Dwight (that's sometimes a function of where the sun often is by the time he gets airborne!)
This shows Bondi, looking towards Dorset -- with Ten Mile Bay and Raynor Island visible in the background.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jack Frost is back

You have to watch for colour and beauty in November. Sometimes it is striking, like a sunset. Sometimes it is smaller, quieter, like the frost painted on these leaves, early in the day.

November Colours

November is the month when folks clean up the property before winter. We've been busy putting the gardens to bed -- cutting down the cornstalks and sunflowers, mulching the flowers and the carrots, adding 'full metal jackets' to the tender apple trees and ornamental shrubs.
And burning old brush. Now there's colour for you!

A Suitable Tale for Hunting Season

I love the old stories...

And now, since John, one of my Blog Readers has sent me some photos of his grandfather, Tom Salmon, I've got one I'd like to share.

One time, Tom Salmon (perhaps the very first white settler in Lake of Bays, certainly the first in the northern part!) was hunting partridge with Mr. H.P. Dwight (for whom the village of Dwight is named.)

Mr. Dwight was the president of the Great North Western Telegraph Company, from Buffalo. With his new, high powered gun, Dwight and Tommy weren't well matched. Tom was using a small, much older gun at the time.

Enter the partridge, sitting in the middle of the dirt road. Up came Dwight's gun, but Tom stopped him.

"You'll blow it all to pieces with that gun."

Dwight replied, "If you shoot at it, you wouldn't hit it." The range being, he felt, too far.

The two of them argued about the merits of each gun, and while they were at it, the partridge, no fool, headed back into the cover of the woods.

This really got Tom going -- they hunted for food in those days, and a partridge in the pot was good eating.

"All right," he said to Dwight, "you go up where that partridge was, and bend over, and I'll show you whether I could have hit it or not!"

Confident in his gun's superior range, Dwight marched up the road to the very spot -- bent over -- and jumped about fifteen feet."

(from the Ruth Martin Papers interview with Harry Salmon)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Early Morning, November

Jackie sent me this photo -- taken on Lake of Bays, early in the morning, in celebration of the colours of November.

This month is too often overlooked. Now that we have become "civilized" -- and I use the word loosely :) -- it is easy to move from a house to a car to an office or mall without ever spending more than a fleeting moment interacting with the ocean of air around us. It is easy, looking out at the frost on the grass, a cup of coffee in hand, to say "looks cold out there" and turn away. Bad weather always looks worse when seen through a window.

And mornings like this, days like we're currently enjoying, these are special, beautiful and like all days rare. Get out of the house. Dress in layers. November is a fantastic month for hiking, photography, wildlife watching. The summer birds have moved south, there are no flies to pester you, the winter birds and animals are easier to spot against the bare branches. Walking is easy. The air is crisp. There are leaves to scuffle through, patterns left by the frost on puddles and shorelines.

And the colours... well... it's a whole new palette, isn't it?

Thanks for sharing your early morning view, Jackie. We certainly do live in a beautiful part of the world!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Promise Made. Promise Kept.

He was an impatient, difficult creature when I bought him, at the age of 3. Many of the best horses are like that, less than easy. One of the top hunter show barns in the country sold him, because he was too difficult, too quirky, to suit their plans. That made him affordable for someone like my myself, if that self was willing to look past the fact that one end bit, one end kicked and the bit in the middle bucked.

The first six weeks, we were far from friends. Paul, my Dad, used to shake his head at his black and blue daughter. “Sell him, or train him, but figure him out,” was his immediate advice. Mom looked farther. “Give him some time.” My brother just laughed at his name – on his papers he was named Canadian Pride, but the nickname he came with was Bacon, and it stuck. His sire was Old Pioneer, who held the distinction of being particularly difficult to work with, but never faulting at a fence during his lifetime – that ability to jump came through. I set to work to figure him out, and to learn to get along, because this was the most talented horse I had owned.

Opinionated, defensive of his personal space, refusing to suffer fools – that was Bacon. If the rider got it wrong, the rider was informed of the error in no uncertain terms. Horses go as they are ridden, and this horse entered my life when I was a sponge, eager to learn more and more, to get better. With him, I was privileged to work with some of the best coaches the world has seen. “He can do it, that one,” said LeGoff, “but you have to ride for it.” So ride for it I did.

Until late in his life, Bacon was not friendly in his stall. That was his private place. We’d joke that if he was a person, he’d be one of those teenage boys with the signs on the door: Keep Out. Private. No Girls Allowed. This Means You. Bring him out of the stall, however, saddle him up, and he was all business, all manners. This horse competed in three day events when they WERE three day events, before they altered into what is now called the Short Format. That meant that he was required to produce dressage tests, cover the distance on the Roads and Tracks, gallop on a Steeplechase course, jump round testing cross country courses over solid obstacles, and come back to show jump over coloured fences. Those horses have to be fit, and tough minded, versatile and brave, submissive and bold.
It’s a tall order, which few horses can fill well. Bacon filled it. Bacon loved it. He was a ridden poem, the rhythm and intensity drawing you along. He was a brave and careful jumper, so much so that even my mother could usually bear to watch us compete – although at one notably difficult and upper level event, she and Olympian Peter Gray’s mother took refuge on the hilltop giving each other play-by-play descriptions of our progress, neither able to watch their own child. In those days of VHS, Dad would film him – although in the excitement of watching us, he’d often take his finger off the appropriate button, and the film would cut out at the crucial moment... “You show ‘em,” Dad would say to him, as we readied him to compete. And Bacon did just that.

There was never a course from which he failed to bring me safely through the finish flags. He took me places far beyond the realm of competition. He introduced me to people around the world who shared the passion in this sport. He took me to heady heights. And soldiered on with me through some pretty heady lows. He passed along his own work ethic, and his impatience with poor planning, intolerance of shoddy technique. He dumped me on the ground when I got it wrong. He got me short-listed for the Pan-Am Games when I got it right. When I was injured in a fall with another horse, he was recruited to be a rider’s ‘second horse’ at the Team training camp before the World’s.
As we came to know each other, as he learned to trust me, he welcomed me into his private space, took the signs off his bedroom door. Gave me, willingly, his power, his youth, his courage, his skill. Tried his best at whatever was asked. Became my best friend. Taught me life lessons. Was unfailingly honest. You cannot possibly ask for more. Such gifts are a great blessing, and sharing his life was an honour.

He retired from high level competition when he ran out of places to compete north of the American border. The time and cash to keep competing in the U.S. was prohibitive, and we’d run out of wall space for his awards anyway. Besides, he was no longer so young, he’d had some injuries too, and it seemed unreasonable to ask him to keep offering . Mellower now, he happily picked up the task of teaching new riders – but still with little patience for their mistakes. When David rode him during the opening of the Trans Canada Trail, he refused to wait for the other horses to keep up. He posed for an artists' retreat. He took apples gently from small hands, and let small people stand on a stool to brush him. He looked after Abby when she was weaned. Barb called him "Uncle Bacon."

I promised him mine would be his forever home. I promised him I would look after him. He knew he was safe with me. Knew this was HIS place. He’d follow me about, rest his head on my shoulder when he thought no-one was around to see, whinny when I came to the barn. The true proof of love is trust, and he offered me that, in spades.

Last week, on November 12, I had to keep the final phase of that promise made, the hardest part. Last week, Bacon walked ‘out of his whinnying, warm stable, onto the fields of praise’ for the last time. We laid him to rest on the cross country course he loved so much. Next to Madam, and an old friend, Archdeacon. His family was there. We made a garden. We planted a tree... we said ‘good bye’.

He was 31 years old. Mine for 28 of them. He gallops now in the green fields of heaven, the power and rhythm of his stride and his courage writing new poetry in that blessed place. It’s said that God created the horse from a handful of the southerly Wind... perhaps when horses leave here, they go back into that wind. Perhaps, if you listen carefully, you can still hear hoofbeats drifting away.

Canadian Pride

June 10, 1978 - November 12, 2009
Old Pioneer -- Velvet Lass
'the best gifts to Man are the Horse, and the Hour'

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Last Day of Hunting Season

The first two weeks of November incorporate the gun hunt for deer up here. That means trucks parked along roadsides, hunters in the woods. The sound of guns. That's the hunt most people are aware of, although there is a longer season of bow-hunting, which being silent tends to be overlooked by the general public. Not overlooked by the deer, however.

The fact is that up here we have too many deer, and that largesse means the deer are over-grazing the forests. And that means that come spring, it's heavy sledding for these lovely animals. Food is scarce. The wolf pack does well. So no, we don't forbid hunting on our property, but we are very very careful about who we allow to be on it to hunt. There is a hunt camp located just to the east of us, and another farther down the Port Cunnington Road.

But the deer seem to know. I think they mark their calendars. The first week of the hunt, our hunters (who only had buck tags, and therefore could not hunt any of the does) saw not a single buck out there from morning to night, while up to twenty female deer came wandering past their stands, gazing at them incuriously. They went home empty handed. No venison on their tables this winter.

This little herd (there were 12 of them in total, not all crowded into my photo) were seen yesterday, in the field across from the Firehall, the field that leads to our Frisbee Golf course. They were happy, relaxed, and they know they've made it through.

Now, if they can find enough food to make it through the winter...

And I'm willing to bet that we'll start to see the bucks, probably next week, coming boldly out of the deep forest places.


More photos, taken in the early morning, watching the sun come up.
This is my little celebration of the colours of autumn's ending. People carry in their minds vivid pictures of the colour of summer: there's no problem picturing the myriad of greens and blues, of bright children laughing in lakes, gardens abrim with flowers. Autumn is well photographed -- those vivid colours that turn the hills into breathstopping glory. And winter... the cold whites, blues, grays, the dark colours of the evergreens, we can picture those.
It's November, the month that is overlooked and underrated -- CBC even ran a program about how to 'survive November' recently. November has the reputation of being gray and sombre, trapped between the spectacle of autumn and the clean snows of winter.
November is after we've left the lakes, and before we've begun to play with the snow. But November has colour of its own. It's an artist's month. It's when you can see through trees to the bone structure of the land beneath, perhaps the month when we are closest to the grounding granite of the great Canadian Sheild. People know the dabs of colour that come with November -- the bright red poppies of Remembrance Day, the hunter orange clothing.
But we all too often overlook the colours of the month itself. They are softer colours, more like watercolours, and these pictures, taken in the water, I think these pictures show that.

Lift up your eyes

I haven't posted for a few days -- there is a reason. I'm still working on the words for the post that needs to fill in the gap... it was a sad day for me on Thursday.
But Friday morning there came this quiet reminder that the sun always rises, and light returns to push away the dark. There may be frost on the roof of Springside cottage, and on the lawn. That cottage is still sleeping in the early morning, but the sun has found the Mountain Lookout. There is colour even in the November trees. There is so much beauty.
And with the leaves down, you can see that very Lookout -- one of the favourite Bondi hike destinations (about half an hour to get up there, 20 minutes to come down, timeless moments spent at the lookout itself)
We've been enjoying fabulous weather last week, and this. Glorious sunny days, mild temperatures, and life is good. The sun is still shining. We have only to look up.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lest we forget...

During WWII Rosemary worked in London, on the Scramble Switchboard, under St. Paul's cathedral, during the worst of the Blitz. She related some of her wartime experiences, and they have become part of our family lore.

Paul's middle name, Pax, was given to him because he was born Dec. 24th, 1918... just a month after the famous peace treaty that was hoped to end all wars.

War is dark. November 11 is the day we gather to remind ourselves of that sombre fact, and to remember those who fought -- and those who are still fighting -- for the freedoms and the lifestyle we enjoy in Canada today. These men and women, both those in uniform and those civilians that work to support the troops in dark times, shone their light into those unspeakably dark places.

The wreath laying ceremony in Dwight, at the Veteran's Wall, takes place early -- today in fact -- so that the Colour Guard, pipers, and organizing personnel can be available on November 11th as well. Nancy had the honour of laying a wreath today, on behalf of the Township of Lake of Bays, but really on behalf of all of us, in gratitude for the courage and strength, the determination and honour of the men and women who bravely go when called into that darkness, and shine so brightly.

Get your poppies on your lapels, and get yourselves out to the Remembrance Day Services near you. Remember.


Dave caught this image, looking down the lake, this evening.
You're looking at a sundog... (not to be confused with a sun god) It indicates that there is moisture in the air, and a change in the weather is approaching.
The setting sun was bracketed at one moment by two almost vertical colour spectrums. We'd call them rainbows, but they don't bow, nor do they follow an outburst of rain, so it seems inappropriate.
In any event, it certainly painted a striking sky!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Where the Hell is John o' Grotes?

The Baysville Library (which is gorgeous and newly renovated and worth visiting anyway) is hosting Jack Thompson Saturday (tomorrow!) at 11 a.m. to launch his autobiography.
Jack, a long time Baysville resident, WWII veteran, adventurer and family man, has put together a collection of his experiences and memories, and since we're always more than keen to support local authors, let alone to help preserve those wonderful stories that surround us, we're happy to encourage everyone in the area to drop by...
Shake Jack's hand, pick up a copy of his book, and find out just Where the Hell IS John o' Grotes?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Carol saw a Blue Macaw!

No, this chap, celebrating his 40th birthday, didn't show up at the feeder next to the raccoon. David, Brian and Carol took advantage of David's reading week to slip away to the sunny south for a week. A quiet little complaint was heard that it was too hot to spend much time on the beach... this fell on deaf ears up here.
They missed out on some rain, a couple of nice crisp days, lots of raking of leaves, and - oh, did we mention? - some wet snow.
November really is a dreary month, coming mostly in shades of gray, so the spot of colour provided by the handsome Macaw was most welcome!
The bush is full of hunters. No worries... the deer seem to be congregated on the lawn, where they are quite safe. Nancy's really glad she's got a covered arena for the horses, and we're all looking forward to when the weather changes.
Soon the air will be crisp, not soggy, the ground will be sparkling with snow, ice will creep along the edge of the lake. The ski trails Brian has been working so hard to have ready will BE ready (they just need snow!) The winter season is coming fast. That dose of cold air may be just what the doctors' ordered -- germs don't do well outside in very cold, very fresh air!

Cute, for being a Nuisance...

No matter how many times it is explained to Rocky that he is NOT a bird -- Does not have a beak. Does not have three toes. No wings. Can't cluck -- he remains unconvinced and shows up every evening to raid the bird feeders.
He also ensures that we keep any garbage locked down tight. Those cute little toes? They can pry their way into just about anything.
He'll be off into hibernation pretty soon, however, and then the real birds, the ones without bandit masks, can re-possess their feeders.

Another Reflection

Don sent this picture along as a comment to my Reflections on Changing Seasons post.

I am always tinged a little green when he sends me photos, since he really is much better behind the lens (and no doubt in front of it!) than I am.

Here it is for those who didn't find the comment link back to his flickr site.

Thanks for sharing Don! Keep clicking!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Reflections on the Season's Change

When the lake is this still, it creates a mirror. Without the slice of shoreline in the foreground, you could almost flip this picture, and be hard pressed to tell where lake ends and sky begins.
In fact, we flipped it for you...
This was our sunset tonight, at the end of a perfect autumn day -- bright bright sun, and t-shirt warm. Quite the change from the wild winds that accompanied last night's Hallowe'en visitors!