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, August 31, 2008

A hunting we will go!

Marg is an avid member and former Master of Foxhounds, so the last thing she wants to do is spend her summer without riding. She has a cottage down the road, however, that has been in the family over a hundred years, and where her sister spends most of her time. What to do!?

Well, this year, Marg acquired a new horse to ride to hounds this fall. Roxy was a drop-dead gorgeous chestnut mare, very friendly, easy to get along with, and up for anything. Only problem, she hadn't been worked in while, and was -- as my English hunting friends would say -- well upholstered. So, Roxy needed to work, and Marg needed to ride. Roxy came here to spend the summer with Nancy's horses, a base from which her rider could take her out almost every day to ride the trails in the region. We called it Roxy's Spa Program -- and must confess we did better with Roxy than we've done with Napster the Cat. On the other hand, Roxy went for much longer walks!

They both went home this week. Roxy is slim, trim, and ready for the hunt. And so, even if she's closing in on 70 years young, is Marg!

30 Years Later

In 1978, Devon and his family stayed with us in Anchor cottage. Where he caught this BIG fish!
While his brothers have been back to stay with us, we haven't seen Devon for some time. This year, he was back, with his own family. He didn't catch a fish this year -- but then, he didn't go fishing, so there's a good reason. He did participate in the Seed Spitting at the Wiener Roast, and came out on the lawn for the Dark Skies program (giving Nancy fits after she finished the presentation by telling her he's an astronomer! She took some consolation in the fact that astronomers rarely howl for wolves, and she, on the other hand, was a howling success in getting the wolf pack to reply!)
His parents came to visit with the grandchildren, and kindly provided us with this photograph.
And Erin pointed out with pride that it was HER husband who caught the fish... And they assure us that they will be back!


The last wiener roast of the summer. That's a little sad... because it's the last one for the year. But it's also a great occasion, because by the last few weeks in August our corn is ripe, and there is no-where better to chow down on a cob of fresh corn than on a beach, by an open fire. My father used to insist that corn on the cob should not be picked until the water was boiling, and he had a point. People always comment on how sweet the corn is, and that is because it is so fresh.

This pair, stuffed with hot dogs and corn, and faces smeared with chocolate s'mores, went off by themselves for a little 'together time' on one of the docks, splashing the water, and sharing their summer memories.

And at the same time, they helped to make some of ours!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


One of the highlights of the summer season has to be watching the monarch butterflies make the change from fat green and gold caterpillars, through the jade green chrysalis,into the stunning orange and black 'flying flowers' that float about the fields and flowers.

There is always at least one cottage that has a monarch caterpillar in a jar, with the children eagerly watching its progress. This is truly one of life's miracles. Ali and Zack were thrilled to have a newly hatched monarch sit on a finger and say hello.

When you consider that these butterflies will fly all the way to Mexico for the winter, it is quite incredible. There were less monarchs around this summer -- it was perhaps too cool and wet for them earlier in the season, and they must have stayed farther south. Last year was a bumper crop -- almost every milkweed had a caterpillar on it.

The monarch feeds on milkweed, which is toxic, and makes the caterpillars and butterflies taste pretty darn bad if you are a bird who happens to snap one up. It's an interesting survival technique, and it works well. Young birds might try a monarch on toast as a snack, but they'll only try it once in their lives.

If you want butterflies in your garden, you should be sure to leave some milkweed growing there. The flowers are beautiful, and so is the soft silk in the seed pod.

Close Encounters

Sue, determined not to be taken unawares by the hummingbird again, pulled up a chair on the deck near the feeder. Sat herself down with a cup of tea, and a camera with a fast shutter speed. She was prepared to be patient. She didn't need to be. The birds were at the feeder in a matter of moments, and she got some just excellent photographs.

This is our favourite -- you can see right through the beating wings, as if they are transparent, yet the colours on the back of this female hummer are so bright.

Despite 'getting the shot' early in the mission, Sue stayed out on the deck, watching the hummingbirds, until she had finished her tea. After all, with this kind of a show going on, why rush?

Sit a Spell

One of our guests, Nancy, snapped this photo during one of those rare moments when all the dock chairs in front of Anchor cottage were empty, in late afternoon. It's more usual to find someone lounging here, reading a good summer book, keeping an eye on the kids in the shallow water. Soaking up the sun. Catching up on a summer Reading List. And on Vitamin D.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jenny Craig calling for Napster the Cat

We were adopted last winter by a new cat, who materialized on the doorstep, and then proceeded to move in. While an admirable cat in oh so many ways, the one issue we had was his dedicated intent to beat up our existing cat at every opportunity. Now, the existing cat, Napster, is a lover, not a fighter. He believes in peace and prosperity for all. Being blind-sided by attacks from the shrubbery, from behind the car, from the top of the couch... leaving a trail of ginger fur and shredded ears... this was not high on Napster's list of things to do.

While we were working on lowering the testosterone levels of the new arrival, named Achmed, Napster took it upon himself not to leave the house. He spent the winter napping by the fire, and emptying the food dish. Never the most slender of felines --he once got stuck in the cat flap door, like Winnie the Pooh visiting Rabbit -- he continued to, well, to expand. This summer, he reached 15 pounds.

Dave and Mike took it upon themselves to rectify the situation, and put him on a strict walking regimen. Coming into the house, they collect the cat and transport him to a distant part of the property, from whence he must walk home. They do this several times a day.

That, combined with portion control and calorie-reduced kibble, plus a detente with Achmed, has at least gotten the cat off the couch.

He's lost half a pound so far. He thinks he could be a spokes-cat for a weight loss program, provided he could do it sitting down.

Hikes and Hawks

A group of us went on a nature walk last week, finding all kinds of fungus, mushrooms, salamanders and tree frogs. Emerging from the woods, we were greeted by a high pitched 'skrreeeee', and looking up, found a red-shouldered hawk sitting right above us. He put on quite a show, calling to us, and looking around, before spreading his wings and vanishing back into the woods.

I went hiking with Quinn last summer. Quinn is an incredible young birder, with a fabulous ear for birdsong and a memory that puts the rest of us to shame. We found all kinds of birds and 'critters' in the bush. As we were crossing the road, he asked if I'd seen many hawks around. "No," I replied truthfully -- I keep an eye out for hawks, because we have chickens! I had no sooner uttered the word than we were stopped by the same high pitched cry, and Quinn told me, matter-of-fact, that there was a juvenile Red-Shoulder in the field. So there was. He flew down to a snag, right in front of Quinn, to say hello.

Maybe this is the same hawk, nesting here this summer!

As we wound our way home through the fields (full of deer!) we were also rewarded by seeing a pair of Coopers' Hawks.The chickens don't have to live in fear of the red-shouldered hawk or the Coopers. They're too big for them! It's when the big goshawks move through in the fall that we have to be extra vigilant.

A Charming Encounter

Sue, camera in hand, was admiring the hollyhocks by the door this morning when something small and fast buzzed past her ear, did a quick U-turn and hovered right in front of her face.

It took her a moment to grab the picture, as the rather petulant hummingbird explained, with high pitched squeaks and buzzing wings that this was indeed HER hollyhock, and Sue could just go find one for herself. Small wonder. Nectar is important to these tiny birds, especially now, as they try to 'bulk up' before setting off on an 800 km. migration across the Gulf of Mexico, non-stop, with no in-flight movies or meals provided.

With wings beating 55 - 75 beats per second, it's amazing to us that she got anything in the photograph other than blur, so we've provided another shot, of a more co-operative male resting on the feeder.

One of four hummingbirds found in Canada, the ruby throat is the only one we get here in Muskoka, about the size of your thumb, and with feathers that actually fracture the light until the birds resemble flying jewels. The humming noise is not, as David claims, because they just can't remember the words, but is produced by the rapid beat of the wings. Hummingbirds do know the words -- and will sing to you in high pitched squeaks as they fly about your head.

In native cultures, they are the symbol for Joy. And, aptly, hummingbirds don't come in flocks. When they are traveling together, it is correctly termed 'A charm of hummingbirds.'

I like that.

Friday, August 22, 2008

swims with loons... and other waterfowl

Jane is over from England visiting her brother's family. They have a cottage, but it can get crowded when everyone is together, so Jane and her husband elect to stay with us. That way, both families can share the hospitality.

On her early morning swim Thursday, she found herself in the midst of a large flock of mergansers. They swam along with her for awhile, evidently thinking she was part of the lake landscape and quite unconcerned. They were swimming faster than she was, however, and soon left her behind while they roamed along the shoreline looking for little fish.

And then, a loon popped up right next to her. He checked her out, less than ten feet away. Jane said she tried to emulate a seal, making no splash, not using her hands, simply treading water. The ruse must have worked. He dove again, popped up on her other side. Stood up and shook out his wings. Dove again, came up a little farther away, but this time with a large fish in his beak. It took him three or four tries to get this fish turned so he could swallow it... and Jane had a front row seat. If you can call treading water a front row seat. Whatever you call it, you can't get closer to a loon. (now, she didn't take this photo -- she had no camera out there with her, so it's from my files... but the rest were taken that very morning.)

As she returned to the main dock, she rounded the corner of the dock to find the mallard family dabbling in the shallows. Except for Jane, and her feathered friends, the lake was mirror still.


The Jonas Brothers rolled into Toronto for a concert this month. Caroline, absolutely determined to see the show, slept on the street in the ticket line-up (with a whole lot of friends!). She not only was successful in scooping up tickets, but she got close enough to touch not one, but TWO of the Brothers...

and, even more Fame came her way when her forehead and arm, waving a poster on which she'd drawn a heart, were featured in PEOPLE magazine's write-up of the concert.

From such modest beginnings does superstardom flow... it begins with your arm in PEOPLE magazine... from there, the sky is no limit!

She was still wearing her armband from the concert when she was at Bondi -- we did check it against the photograph in the magazine, and warrant that it is authentic.

Art Show on the Lawn

We are always delighted and proud to support our guests and friends in their artistic endeavors. Hanging in our cottageas you'll find many original pieces of art created for us over the years by our guests.

This summer, Jean Rosati brought several of her pieces and presented an Art Show on the lawn in late August. Lots of our guests dropped by to look at the exhibiition and chat to the artist (We did note that Pete sat comfortably in the shade reading the paper for some of this!) Several of our guests purchased artwork to take home with them.

Nancy and Peter, still celebrating Nancy's birthday, couldn't resist the painting titled Open Sky -- and a beautiful painting it is. Despite the overpacked condition of their car, it went home with them, carefully balanced on Tess' lap in the back seat.

Jean works in watercolours, and her subjects are widely ranging, from a pile of Labrador puppies in a window, through a series of Muskoka landscapes, to close ups of flowers, and vignettes from her trips in Africa and Italy. Truly, she has something for everyone in her portfolio!

We can put you in touch with her, if you like what you see here on the Blog!

Shelley is a very talented artist as well, and the two ladies got deep into discussions about techniques and mediums. Maybe next summer we can entice Shelley to exhbiit some of her works with us as well.

Early Morning, 3 a.m.

Dave is heading to college this fall. Registrations, in this modern age, take place via the internet, so on the morning that the registrations opened for his college, off he zoomed to the Dwight Library (they have high speed, we are still jumping up and down trying to get it to reach us here!) Here, Dave learned three important things.
1) Fast doesn't mean efficient. He could get onto high speed, but he couldn't get into the college website, due to traffic volume.
2) Patience is a virtue. He needs to work on this... when frustration levels reached critical mass, he went off to do something else before imploding, right there in the Library computer room.
3) Try, try again. Cleverly and correctly assuming that people with high-speed would be asleep in the middle of the night, he set the alarm, got up at 3 a.m., and with dial-up, surfed in successfully, registered for all his classes, and Got the Deed Done.
So he's good to go. Except for one small detail. We're going to miss him...

Sittin' Knittin'

Wendy is a Blog-ist. She has several favourite Blogs that she checks on a regular basis (we hope we're one of them!) One of her 'must read sites' is a blog called the Yarn Harlot, where she finds great patterns.

Here at the cottage, soaking up the sun, she was thinking ahead to colder weather and knitting a fabulous scarf, with beads woven right into the pattern.

Wendy got back into knitting, after taking a several year break, about three years ago, when Leslie, in an adjacent cottage, suggested she pick up some yarn for her daughter. Leslie was going to be teaching HER daughter to knit, and thought Wendy's daughter would enjoy joining in the activity while they were all here at Bondi.

From that simple beginning grew an entire 'flock' of keen knitters -- of which Wendy is one of the very keenist!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

license to tinker

Peter is an engineer. And he is imbued with the true engineering spirit. So when he and Brian get together, it is only to be expected that Things Will Be Altered.
While Brian and David earlier in the summer got the Solar Cooker to do its thing and COOK, (see Post from July: Green Eggs. And Ham) when Peter arrived, simple cuisine was not enough.

Armed with copper pipe, rubber hose, some steel wool, and a sunbeam, Peter set out on the lawn to devise a way to use the Solar Cooker to provide hot water for the whole household.

And he succeeded! Not quite enough water yet to run the Resort Laundry, but in what seemed to be no-time-at-all he had plenty of hot water 'on tap.' We admit, we were a little disappointed that he didn't set up a bathtub on the lawn next to the Solar collector, fill it with hot bath bubbles, and hop on in, but perhaps we still have that to look forward to!

Whenever Peter is here, he finds a way to modify and improve some piece of technology that we've been using 'just the way it was.'

In recognition of his life long dedication to finding "another way", Bondi has awarded Peter the "License to Tinker."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Making the Birthday Grade

Sarah officially became a teenager while she was here at Bondi. Turning that milestone is a pretty cool occasion (and just the beginning of Mom and Dad's Wild Ride!) We thought we should celebrate the moment, before she and her family return to England.
To commemorate the occasion, Sarah was presented with a "Report Card" for her time here. She got an A++++ in Marshmallow eating... but since she started to fall asleep during our Stargazing, we think she can improve, and she scored a B- there.
An A- in Owl Calling... and a whole slate of other activities rounded out the report. We're delighted to report Sarah made the grade, with flying colours, and has been officially welcomed into teenagehood!
Tell the World to 'brace for impact', because she's going to continue to be amazing!

Artists in the Woods

A walk in the woods this summer rewards the hiker with the most amazing display of fungi and mushrooms. The wet summer that has embraced Ontario this year has provided perfect conditions for these beautiful and occasionally bizarre fungi. From the bright red caps to the gray and green oyster mushrooms and the ghoslty Indian pipes, the range is huge. These black devil's urns were found near the top of -- aptly enough -- Devil's Drop hill on one of the steepest hills anywhere on our ski trails. The yellow corals were pretty much everywhere along the North Ridge ski trail. And we found plenty of artist's fungus, a personal favourite. This shelf fungus is great fun, because when you draw on the creamy underside, the spores rub away, leaving a dark mark behind that is permanent. Clever artists -- like Ellie -- can create truly amazing artwork on these, which will dry into a petrified cork-like wood, and last essentially forever if you keep them dry. There are museums that have samples that were created by soldiers during the American Civil War.

Ours aren't quite that old, but up in the Recreation Barn, we have several on display that guests have made for us, celebrating their time here, and some of them go back 30 years or more.

Ellie, here from England, created this masterpiece to celebrate meeting the young buck hanging out at the resort -- whose antlers are still in velvet. On our nature hike, along with mushrooms, we found trees where the bucks had polished off their velvet last fall. And we all had a go at calling for the Barred Owl. In the woods, art comes in many forms!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Kids -- just add water. Water -- just add kids.

Take a kayak. Add a person. Drop 'em in a lake...
Heaven. From the open top double-hull kayaks that we have at the resort to the snazzy free-style white water kayaks, and all the more conventional designs in between, it doesn't seem to matter a bit the age of the paddler -- in a kayak, we're all one with the water.
Eamon looked like a pro his very first try at the sport. Dave and Mike battle it out at every opportunity, and John very simply enjoys being able to get so close to the wildlife, so silently, that they seem to think he's just something floating by.
An early morning paddle along our shore, either by kayak or canoe, will often reward you with a glimpse of the great blue herons, mergansers or loons that frequent the bay.

If you're never tried kayaking, but want something more organized than learning along our shoreline, every Wednesday until September 24th Algonquin Outfitters in downtown Huntsville offers Kayak Wednesdays. Meet at the store at 6, and they'll have you on the water by 7 p.m., for a two hour paddle along the Muskoka River. It's only $15, and you get to try different kayaks from their inventory, as well as get a look at the river, with a guide.

White Water

Every summer we try to schedule at least one trip over to the Ottawa River to go white water rafting. It usually happens in August -- when the river level is low. That doesn't mean the rapids are small -- quite the opposite, in fact, because high water can 'smooth out' some of the rapids just through the sheer volume of water going over top of the rocks. What it means is that we usually run the Main Channel -- which finishes up over the Coliseum rapid, which is by any standards HUGE.
This year, the water levels were extraordinarily high, and we got to run the Middle Channel. That was a new experience for us!
We like to go with OWL -- partly because Dirk is a friend of Brian's, and they can spend a few minutes chatting. This year, they were discussing the new pontoon boat Dirk is adding to the OWL fleet. These boats pick you up after you've done the rapids, and bring you home, while serving up a steak dinner on the river.
We've also rafted with RiverRun and Wilderness Tours over the years, and we think they are all superb companies, offering great trips.
The Middle Channel has more rapids, and plenty of paddling. We were sharing our raft, with guide Heather (great job, Heather!!) and a family from Aylmer, Quebec, who were rafting for the first time. The father had recently retired from the police force, where he specialized in water rescue, so we had an added degree of security in our raft! Not that we needed it, nobody fell out, no rafts tipped. It did rain on us, but even so, a rainy day on the Ottawa River is better than a sunny day in the office. We were treated to sights of ospreys and herons -- for those who could let go long enough to look around. We don't know if Brian saw much of anything except River, since he as in the very front of the raft!!
It's a day trip from Bondi -- leaving about 8 a.m., and getting home about 10.30 p.m. Always keep your eyes open going through the Park. David came over the crest of a hill on the trip home to find a huge bull moose trotting down our lane. Wonderful to see, but not if it's on your front bumper! They are dark, and hard to see against the pavement, so you always have to drive with great care through Algonquin.
We pause both going and coming in Barry's Bay to pick up a coffee, and to check out the statue of the AVRO ARROW. The original test pilot for this magnificent, ground-breaking (air-breaking?) airplane, Janus Zurakowski, hailed from Bancroft.
We also pause in Wilno -- historic site of the first Polish settlement in Canada -- to admire the view from the church on the hill. It's a great trip, and one we look forward to all year.

Vive la France!

The weekly Wiener Roast took on an Olympic flavour this week, when we had multiple nationalities participating in the Seed Spitting contest.
Our two Daves, both well trained and experienced Bondi Seed Spitters, did very well, flying the flag for Canada in the Intermediate division. Dave Z had the top spit of the evening, at 36'3".
Shahira, recently returned from two weeks in Ghana where she helped build a school -- and found a necklace made of Watermelon seeds which she brought back for Nancy (who will now never be without seeds on the beach!) opted to spit under the Ghana flag.
She was toppled in the Women's division by Rain, "Spittin' for Britain", and getting that kernel 20'6".
The men's division was hotly contested. Samir, stepped up to the line for Saudi. Dave and Andy, here with Rain from London, England, came forward, "spittin' for Britain". While they confessed they had never heard of this sport, they are all enthusiastic about introducing it at their next neighbourhood party. And Eric, here from Paris, France, with considerable urging from his sons and a bit of practice aiming popcorn kernels at the passing ducks (they were delighted), came to the line. Here he displayed a talent he didn't know he had, with total Gallic charm. The USA was well represented as well, so we were truly international!
Brian and Dave kicked off the competition with a salute from the Potato Cannon.
And when the last popcorn kernel had been measured, it was France with the Gold Medal, at 32'9", leaving Canada's Tom with the silver, at 26'4. Felicitations, Eric, pour votre grand expectorant. (and for your patience with my rusty French!)
The Olympics in Beijing had nothing on us for drama, suspense, and athletic prowess!
They don't have ducks to come in after and clean all the kernels off the beach, either.

Dragons in the Rain

Every summer the dragonboats roar into Huntsville, at Avery Beach. Heavy rains didn't dampen the enthusiasm this year -- heck, does anything dampen the enthusiasm of these teams? We think not! 26 teams took part in the Bell Huntsville Dragonboat Festival this year.
Last year, one of our guests was paddling hard. Marg paddles for the Busting Out team, from Ottawa, and went in from Bondi to join her teammates, who -- with her help! -- paddled to two silver medals during the competition.And we think they've got the best logo!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Merganser Magic

Most of Ontario has had more than its fair share of rain this year -- which is probably preferable to the drought and fires they're getting out west. All the same, this was the first day this summer that we had prolonged rainfall. Usually the storms have just breezed through, leaving most of the day suitable for spending time at the beach, hiking, exploring and all sorts of outdoor activities. Saturday, however, was a pretty steady rainfall.

Rain shouldn't keep you indoors though. It certainly didn't slow down this huge flock of mergansers fishing along the beach. There were 40 ducks, mostly kids, learning how to fish. These ducks are very co-operative, with the females sharing some of the babysitting duties, so while they rarely have a clutch of more than 17 eggs of their own, seeing them out with huge flocks is not unusual.

These ducks are cool, with their distinctive slender beaks with serrated edges -- they are also called Sawbill, or Sheldrakes because of these 'toothy' beaks that are perfect for snaggling a fish. The females and the youngsters wear this gray outfit, with a reddish crest and a white chin. The males are noticeable by their absence when it's time to teach the kids to fish, but they are spectacular when they do show up, with green heads and immaculate black and white plumage.

It was well worth standing in the rain under umbrellas just to watch the ducks fishing, the water boiling as the ducks vanished underneath, only to pop up moments later. The moms don't feed the young -- they just supervise while the kids catch their own fish. It's fascinating to watch them swim along, heads underwater like loons, looking for fish.

And the rainy day was a good excuse, once we came back inside, to light the fireplaces, and pull out some board games.

Just Hanging Around

There are different ways to relax. John found his happy place with a book and a hammock next to the lake. While the rest of the 'gang' at his cottage checked out the water trampoline -- specializing in the 'seated bounce' routine.

Talking Turkey

Some of our guests were hiking with their little girls in the back fields, following the Frisbee Golf course, this week, when they saw a scurrying in the grass near the the fourth fairway.

Wild Turkeys. Three adults, and a whole flock of poults, who did what Jon described as "divide and conquer" -- the youngsters flew up into the safety of the trees, while the adults ran in various directions to distract.

Still, they were able to get some good photos.

There are lots of blueberries in the back fields now, too. Liz said she couldn't find any, so we're wondering if that's because the turkeys have been scarfing them down!

Wild turkeys were re-introduced into Ontario several years ago, in a joint program with Michigan that saw Ontario sending Michigan moose from Algonquin Park, and Michigan returning to us wild turkeys. Nancy always thought that was NAFTA in a Nutshell -- we give them Moose, they give us turkeys... but never mind that political aside!

The turkeys have thrived, and moved steadily north. They are doing so well that the MNR has opened a 'turkey season' in Muskoka for hunters. We had a friend in the field this spring, fresh from graduating from Turkey Hunting School (yes, there is one), and Mike was delighted to find that in fact he could call the big toms out of the bush. He never got a shot, which was fine with him. And fine with us. And we're sure it was fine with the turkeys. All the same, it was an interesting way to spend the morning, talking turkey with the big boys!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Making a splash!

Krysti found a BONDI BEACH T-shirt, and wore it to her lesson on Bailey, Nancy's gray Irish Sport Horse.

It seemed appropriate, since grandfather Joseph Tapley originally named the farm for the famous beach near Sydney, Australia! Of course, that was before the dam at Baysville raised the lake five feet, but all the same, the shape of the bay is very similar, and we do have a sandy beach!

A sudden torrential rain drove us into the indoor arena, but the sun came out again, so we went right back outside to play in the puddles, and jump some of the cross country fences. After all, Bailey's Irish, so used to the mud, and what could be more fun than splashing about!

Krysti has been in Horse Sport magazine, as one of the rider models for Nancy's "how to" articles. Nancy is a level 3 NCCP coach, specializing in the discipline of eventing, and three of her students have competed at the North American Young Riders Championships, bringing home medals.

Our guests enjoy watching the horses train, and just visiting with them in the stables. There is trail riding nearby, at Algonquin Trails, too.

Catching a Whale

Even if Grace isn't much bigger than the rock bass she pulled in, there is nothing like catching your very first fish! Luckily Dad was there to bait the hook, and to gently remove the rock bass and release him back into the lake for another child to catch!

There are plenty of bigger fish in the lake -- with over 300 miles of shoreline and depths dropping to close to 300 feet in places, this is big water, and a haven for trout. The Andrew Daniels Fish Stewardship Program is currently working to improve spawning beds and restore streams. This is an intiative to commemorate the memory of one of the most dedicated fishermen ever seen on our lake: Andrew always knew where the fish were. As part of their program they have produced a great 'fish ruler' that goes on the gunnel of the boat, letting you easily tell which fish are 'big enough', and which fish should go back into the water. Sometimes, it's the big ones that need to get away, in order to continue to spawn and keep the fish population healthy! These rulers, along with posters showing all our Lake of Bays fish, can be purchased at local stores and marinas.

Pierre's uncle Jamie helped him pull this pike out of the Oxtongue River on their first day here at Bondi. It might be bigger than Grace's rock bass, but for excitement, we think they were pretty much equal.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

70 miles Swum

Arlene has been coming to BONDI for 34 summers. (Longer, if you count her visits in the fall!) In all that time, she has never missed the Island Swim. This is every Thursday morning in the summers. We go early, because the lake is still then. There is very little boat traffic, or waves.

Every swimmer has an escort boat, a canoe, kayak, paddleboat, and Nancy patrols the course with an outboard. It's not a race -- swimmers swim at their own pace. John kayaks along with Arlene.

Sometimes, like this morning, we are joined by others who share the lake -- the occasional loon. A family of ducks. Today it was a cormorant, who flew so close to John's escorting kayak he could have touched it with a paddle.

Earlier in the week, kayaking on Cache Lake in Algonquin Park, a loon surfaced so close to John's kayak that he could have touched him without a paddle. Any closer, and the loon would have been sitting IN the kayak too!

The Island is a mile away. There's a huge flat cliff at the halfway mark. And there is always the risk that swimmers will drift off course towards Lumina Resort, our neighbours. About the time we swim from the Island, the second sitting is heading into the Dining Room at Lumina. The sound of the breakfast gong, the faint smell of coffee and bacon must drift across the water and lure our swimmers off course! That's hardly surprising -- Lumina has an excellent chef!

As of this morning's swim, Arlene has swum 70 miles, coming from the Island home to Bondi. She says she has no intention of missing these swims anytime soon, even if her kids seem to reach the dock before her!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

After the Storm

This has been the summer for rainshowers -- hot sun, and then a sudden storm blowing through. Last night we got over an inch of rain. Then, this afternoon, another big thunderstorm came through. My dad, Paul, had a saying about rain:
"hard rain short; soft rain long" It certainly seems to apply -- these hard thunderstorm rainfalls never last very long!

When it cleared, everyone headed back outside. Some, like Jamie and Nora, headed back to the lake, to enjoy some time on the water trampoline, spreading ripples out across the still surface of the lake.

Nancy took some of the kids with her on a short Nature walk. We saw holes made by pileated woodpeckers, Indian pipe fungus, raspberries, ferns, deer, ducks, and a beech tree that had been climbed by bear cubs, all the way to the top! Eamon and Harriet could fit their fingers into the cub's claw marks -- but they couldn't climb the tree!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Tale of Two Feathers

If you remember the blurb about the Regatta (Taking the Plunge, July 2008) you'll remember that Nancy picked up a barred owl which had been hit by a car. Since the dead bird was banded, it needed to be reported, and while she was trying to find time to do all of that, the bird languished, well wrapped in plastic bags, in her freezer, next to a Downy Woodpecker that hit a window and was destined to go Algonquin Park to be part of one of their educational displays. (folks coming to her place to dinner often take a look in the freezer, and suggest going out to eat) It's a form of recycling: dead birds go to the Park educational displays. Injured birds go the nearby Wing and a Prayer Bird Rehabilition Centre.

We're happy to report that the owl -- and the woodpecker -- are now safely in the hands of the Park Naturalists.

When Park Naturalist Rick dropped by to pick them up, early one morning last week, we were treated to the sight of an osprey flying overhead, and then diving to the lake. That got Rick pretty excited. They are not that common a sight here.

To show our guests, Nancy kept an owl feather. (She actually kept an entire wing, but to do this you have to have a license of permission -- got that; and someone to help preserve the wing -- working on that) Owls are silent fliers. They can whoosh past and you won't hear a thing. That's helpful if you're sneaking up on a mouse in the dark. What helps them fly so silently is the shape and design of their feathers. Not the fastest fliers out there, owls have wide feathers that are fringed at the edges, breaking up the air along the feather's edge. You can see those fringes in the photo of the barred owl feather. They are deadly accurate, and you never hear them coming.

Ravens, on the other wing, are fast in the air, and noisy with it. You can hear them as their feathers slice into the air. They create a lot of noise. That's because their feathers are hard edged, sharp, narrow. Built for speed, but not very useful if you're trying to sneak up on a mouse. Ravens don't care much about mice. They like other things. One scooped a swimsuit with bright shiny buttons off the porch at one of the cottages recently. Ravens like shiny things. Loud things. If they were people, they'd probably take the muffler off the convertible, and crank the stereo...

Form and function in the bird world always comes down to feathers!