It is Christmas. The time of year we pause to catch our breath before diving into the New Year, and to touch base with friends both near and far. I am writing this on December 12. 12/12/12 – that’s a confluence of dates we won’t see again. The Winter Solstice is drawing closer. It will bring with it the longest night, not to mention the Mayan End of Calendar, and then will herald the welcome return of longer days. It is a reminder that light is stronger than any dark, every night has a dawn, every winter has a spring. That’s a message we can all take to heart, at this time of year when we celebrate the greatest Light of all. “Be not afraid,” said the angels, “for we bring tidings of great joy.” So in this darkest time of year, we are reminded that Christ is the Light of the World, who came to us with ‘tidings of the greatest joy’. It is a time of year when as we crawl through malls in search of material things, we might be better to pause and ponder the real meaning of Christmas, and ask, if that’s the line to see Santa, then where is the line to see Jesus?
2012 brought us a winter with plenty of snow, but since that seemed not to be the case much south of Gravenhurst, a lot of folk didn’t seem to realize it was winter. Up here conditions were great for ski and snowmobile sports, despite a warm spell in January. We welcomed back our skiers, snowmobilers and snowshoers. Brian and David had the ski trails in superb shape. Something new, we hosted a Paintball Biathlon, combining skiing with target shooting with paintballs! Guest sightings of Snowy Owls and Bald Eagles made sure we all kept our eyes open, too. Spring came early – the ice went out March 25. Our average ice-out is April 23, and in over 100 years it has only happened in March three times – 1940, 2010 and 2012. Hello Global Warming.
Seasons occasionally seemed confused. March and April sort of switched places -- enough to trick the gardens. A lot of crops suffered from the switched about weather.
|Sarah, David, Mike, Carol, James and Brian gear up |
for Zip Lining in Mexico.
Sometime in mid-June it stopped raining and didn’t start again until into late August. New water toys were popular - the lake was the place to be. The Fire Ban that came with the extended drought put a small crimp into the making of ‘smores at the Cookouts and saw a lot of irrigation pouring into Carol’s lovely garden. Even so, crops suffered.. The corn ripened all at once it seemed, keeping us busy picking and eating and freezing!
Mike Bechtel joined us again, his 5th year working with us. He keeps Dave on his toes. And Dave repays the favour. The pair of them keep the rest of us sharp. He’s a member of the family now! We were also joined by Natalie this summer.
Come August, Dave has been out of college for a year, and is enjoying working at the Resort full time. He was happy to be home for the summer to reconnect with friends at the Resort. He’s wonderful with our guests, if we do say so ourselves, and takes guests waterskiing, for paintball experiences, manhunt and general activities. Carol is especially grateful to have him here, finished with academics, and seeing his smiling face every morning. His positive outlook is a joy. A trip to Niagara Falls and whitewater rafting the Ottawa were also on his activities list this year. And yes, he is still with long time girlfriend Megan.
He put his skills to use building a fish hut and a ‘Hunt Camp’ on one of the tiny lakes on our land. It seemed timely. He and Mike took the gun course and hunting exams this year and went deer hunting with our long time guest Herman come autumn. With his guidance, they learned a lot about hunting, not the least of which including carrying the 9-point buck out of the bush. They also learned about how to cook what they caught, not just fish, and grouse, but venison.
Brian added a second solar installation last year, so now we have two, plus a third that heats water. Both work well, and add about 24,000 kwh per year of green energy to the grid. Brian thought about adding another, but “when the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the project, the job is done.” Until the Government gets serious about encouraging these, it’s not feasible to expand.
This autumn, with great sadness, we said farewell to Walter Hadden, who left us in his 89th year. Along with his wife, Evelyn, Walter has been a cornerstone of our summer, with their combined families visiting us for 51 years in an unbroken chain. The whole premise of our resort is to see so many familiar faces and families return, providing a place to build their best memories. Walter and his family have been a big part of that.
Every year we update and upgrade. Usually it’s stuff you see – renos, floors, beds, curtains... The big rebuild project for the resort this year has been one you won’t see. It’s not glamorous, and in fact, not visible. The MOE has updated its requirements, regardless of how the current systems function, resulting in our re-doing many of our septic systems and although it was not in our build plans for this year, in order to comply, here we go. We will be the most up-to-date resort in the area when we are done!
November saw Brian, Carol and Dave in Florida for a week. It was cool, but sunny, and they filled the time walking the beach, shopping and yes, although they were the only hardy types out there, swimming in the Ocean.
Brian never gets enough air time with his plane – either the weather or the work seem to be in the way, but he still logged enough air time to get some fantastic aerial photos, many of which were posted on our Resort Blog. That Blog won a Muskoka Technology Achievement Award for Best Web Presence this year. The Blog has become a Journal of life at Bondi, for ourselves and our guests, and the readership is quite astonishing. It was not our only award, as it turns out, when Brian went to Gravenhurst to accept a Stewardship Award for Bondi from the Muskoka Steamship and Historical Society. In their words, Bondi has maintained the look and feel of the traditional family operated resort, and today is one of only a few that fall into that category. It’s nice to be recognized. The only upside we find to Social Media is that it helps us stay in closer touch with our friends, so please do join us on FB and follow our Blog.
Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. When you have come to the edge of all light that you know, and are about to drop into the darkness of the unknown, Faith is knowing that one of two things will happen: there will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught to fly.
Best wishes for the coming year from all the Tapleys at Bondi!