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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What a View

This was my view from the Lookout trail this afternoon.

Bondi, with 2000' of waterfront and 600 acres of wilderness, look like a jewel.

Which is exactly what we think it is.

We still have vacancies during the summer months. Give us a call.

Close Encounters

Doris and her family stayed with us at Bondi over the Easter Weekend.  Making use of the Park Pass we include with all our rentals, they spent quite a lot of time in Algonquin Park.

She recently sent me these photos, which show just how close our guests were to the largest land mammal in North America -- the Algonquin Park moose.

Here on the lawn at Bondi, they saw whitetail deer, and on a short hike along our own private nature trails were introduced to both the beakwork of the pileated woodpeckers and the claw marks left on beech trees by climbing bears.  Loons and spring peepers serenaded them, too.

Our guests frequently comment that they see more wildlife here on our property than they do in the Park, simply because our trails are often less crowded and busy during the summer season.  We are right next door to the Park, so that's no big surprise -- our local wolf pack is actually resident in the Park for part of the year.

But one thing we rarely see here are moose. They don't share ranges with the deer, and since we have a lot of deer, we don't have a lot of moose.

Not to worry -- an early morning drive into the Park will often fill in any gaps in that department!

As an aside, Doris took her Napster artwork to her English class, where she gave a talk about our famous artistic cat.  She is heading up Napster's Fan Club in Switzerland.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Peeps and Tremolos

Jerry Schmanda photo
Tree frog on rock

Between spring peeper frogs and the loons on the bay, our nights have been very musical lately.  Spring peepers, tree frogs, the deep "jug o' rum" call of the bullfrogs and a host of other 'singers' are all fired up in an amphibian chorus that is wonderfully entertaining, and drowns out just about everything else!

Mike Baum photo

Add into the mix the very chatty pair of Barred Owls on the hill, and it's a full scale orchestra out there after dark!  We are still in love with this photo of the barred owl and the chickadee, and are happy to share it again..  Our barred owls have been in the trees near Springside cottage, calling back and forth for about a week.  It sounds serious!

Our friend Mike Baum, from Dorset, also caught this short video of a loon on Kawagama lake, that is too good not to share, and gives a good idea of what we get to hear almost daily.

Jerry Schmanda photo

Many thanks also to Jerry Schmanda, who provides me with such wonderful photographs of our wild neighbours!  It won't be long before our pair of loons have their chicks out and swimming.

Just a reminder, if you're boating, remember that the wake from your boat can be enough to wash loon eggs right out of the nests that they build at the water's edge.  Drive with care, and keep your wake as small as possible, please. There are baby loons working hard to be born out there!  This is critical time for the loons -- from mid-June to mid-July they are on their nests and with the chicks.  Loosely built nests touching the water (because loons are less than graceful on dry land!) may be washed away by boat wakes, destroying the nest and the eggs.  Chicks are hatched in late June, and are extremely vulnerable to becoming separated from their parents by boat activity as well.  Wake Up! Slow Down! Stay Away!  You have an enormous window of time when you can enjoy your boating, but the loons have a very narrow window when they can successfully ensure that we will be able to hear loon laughter on our lakes in future.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Completing the Look

Following my eye surgery, the vision in my left eye is still -- because I am looking at life through a bubble of gas -- blurry, unfocused, generally distracting.

To help with this, since I find I start to get headaches in my "good eye", I occasionally have donned pirate attire, complete with eye patch.  While I'd prefer to be channeling Capt. Jack Sparrow, I don't have the hat or the eyeliner for that look.

But a pirate with a patch needs, for the look to be complete, a parrot on the shoulder, would you not agree?  Here in Muskoka, parrots can be hard to come by.

Today, at the Fundraiser in Port Carling for A Wing and a Prayer (where, as an aside, Napster's art on offer raised $170.00, in addition to the $1000 he has collecte this year for his fav charity) Barb and I were lucky enough to be sitting next to Dale and Jody Gienow. These are the fine folks who run the Muskoka Wildlife Centre. If you've never dropped in on your way north, you really should take the time.  It's quite magical -- their son, North, grew up waking up in the morning, sticking his head out the window to howl with their wolves, then kissing the resident moose on the nose. What a wonderful start to anybody's day!

Bondi Village is proud to sponsor Woodrow, one of the beaver's living at MWC. Woody is a star -- he has been in movies: White Tuft the Little Beaver.  He has been the Canadian ambassador at the Vancouver Olympics -- where he got to ride in a bobsled. Jody shared with us today that while in Whistler, they stayed in a condo where Woody would climb the stairs for a swim in the tub, then come back downstairs to rearrange all the kindling and wood at the fireplace.

At the Fundraiser, MWC had brought several animals, including Sir Hiss the Gartersnake, and Punk, the kestrel (now 13 unbelievable years old) with attitude. Petunia the baby skunk, and a very very young baby opossum helped round out the lineup.

Dale and Jody were kind enough to help me complete my Pirate Look...  With a little assistance from Barfolomew, the Turkey Vulture.  He is a gentle, serious soul, who takes life quite seriously and is easily alarmed.  It was an honour to have him complete my pirate 'look.' 

Way cooler than a common or garden variety parrot, don't you think???

Bass Players

6 a.m. and the gentle purr of the fishing boat heading down the bay was heard in the land.  Dave and Mike were heading out to continue their quest for the Mythical Fish.

It's not that there aren't fish in the lake, it's that the fishermen are still honing their technique.

Patience, they have been told, is the name of the game, and David took that advice seriously.  A hurried fish never strikes...  And besides, isn't it all about the journey???

On his first cast David thought he felt a tug.  "Probably a dead log," he dismissed it, since he has had so far a stellar career in catching bottom habitat.

But no... it was indeed a fish.  A 17"  bass.  A beautiful fish.  There was much excitement in the boat.

Now, bass are not yet in season, so they handled this one with great care and made sure it was released immediately after the photographic evidence was collected. Bass are on their nests now, the males protecting the fry, and if you are dumb enough to catch them, you will remove an entire generation of fish from the lake.

In any event, the boys aren't so much into the "kill, klean and kook". For them, it's the excitement of the chase, the choosing of the lures, the possibility that out there, just inches away from their hook, lurks some Lake of Bays behemoth just waiting to make their day.

Now, however, they no longer have the excuse that 'there are no fish'. Proof positive... a) we've got fish, and b) the duo have the smarts to catch them.

Rock on!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Learning Trades and Making Connections

We are honoured this week to be hosting three gentlemen from Schleswig, a town  in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.   This is the northernmost of the sixteen German states -- and is, as an aside, famous for its sport horses.

Randalf, Rudiger and Michael are here meeting with the Township of Lake of Bays, the Town of Huntsville, and our joint Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of the trip is to work out the possibilities of an Apprentice Exchange, probably next year. (there is a lot of work to do before everyone is ready to go with this exciting project).

Heinz Hubbert, whom many of you will remember from when he ran Henrietta's Pine Bakery, arguably one of the most popular bakeries in Muskoka, brought this venture to our attention, and it has worked forward to this point -- with people on the ground.  These internship programs have existed in Europe for some time.  The cultural benefits, and acquisition of new skills create an amazing learning experience for all concerned.

Why here? Well, some of the people involved have been to Muskoka. Apparently the National Geographic Travel Editors are not the only people who think this is the top destination.  The beauty of the area, its proximity to Algonquin Park and the vibrant construction industry that is here are all part of the draw. 

This is a pilot project, the first reaching across the Atlantic, and there is a lot of support, including from the German national government.  It's pretty exciting. As this project works forward, they will be looking for tradespersons willing to take on apprentices, be it in construction, electrical, plumbing, bakeries, fine carpentry... whatever.  Tradespeople are the heartblood of most communities, being "the ones who get it done."

We're delighted that we are able to take part in this venture, and host the German ambassadors for the project while they are meeting with the Mayors, Chamber of Commerce, interested tradespersons -- and taking in the sights of Muskoka.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fort Wood

 17,000 pounds.  Brian worked it out. That's how much wood they moved in just one day. That includes lifting the blocks into the wood splitter, lifting the split wood into the truck, and then lifting -- yet again -- the wood onto the woodpiles.  Brian is very grateful that he has an automated splitter, and no longer has to swing that axe again and again and again. Those were the days -- days of repetitive joint strain and exhaustion, we suspect...
That old saying "Wood Warms You Three Times" seems to have come home to roost. It warms you when you cut it, whe you split it, and when you burn it...  We're two out of three!  Of course, before we can burn it, the wood must season and dry. Burning green wood is not a productive enterprise.

The piling of wood to dry began to bore the lads of the BMD (Bondi Maintenance Dept.), those endless long lines... all much of a oneness.  Fort Wood was born!  It's got doorways, windows, and we are told it will soon have turrets.  It also has a flag.  And it is a landmark if you are flying in a plane. It's big. It's creative, it's fun. It's a lot of wood...
There's a lot more wood to come out of our managed forests. We heat the main office and Lodge with a hot water boiler system that runs on wood.  It is backed up by solar heating systems, but in winter, on snowy days, it's the wood that warms.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

We are Fawned

We are fawned of this time of year.

Very very fawned.

This morning Julia, who has been just wonderful at helping me out in the barn this week while I was lying face down recovering from eye surgery, discovered just how fawned we are.

She walked around the corner of the stable, and there, at the gate to the pasture, was the doe and the smallest of fawns.  Julia said "she was so tiny I was looking for the afterbirth. I think she must have been just born."

Mom got the baby up, and they walked away down the pasture. Naturally Julia was holding a pitchfork, not a camera. It is usually that way. 

This fawn was one of last year's.  For the past three years we have been blessed to have newborn fawns on the property, hiding in our gardens, under our trees, snuggled in our affections. At least until they start to eat the gardens.

Signs of the Times

One of our projects this year is to update all our road signs.

Brian recently installed this one, along Highway 35. 

We think it looks pretty darn snazzy...

And we hope it helps bring some guests down Fox Point Road!  It's a curious thing, in this age of the car where people will drive everywhere, that many tourists now are reluctant to turn off the main highway 60 to Algonquin Park.  And yet, here we are, less than 5 km. from that Highway, away from the traffic, with our own huge private wilderness, trails, more wildlife than we can actually get off the lawn at any given time, loons in the bay, fawns on lawns...

Our rates include a pass into the Park, either Algonquin or Arrowhead.

We think it's really worthwhile stepping off that beaten track. 

Counting Geese after they Hatch

Out of the nest and into the bay...

It wasn't that long ago the goose and gander were whispering sweet nothings to each other, posturing with wings and necks and checking out the dating sites.  Two days ago, they appeared with FIVE little fluffy goslings.

Yesterday, overcome by confidence, Mom and Dad lead the little ones all the way up across the lawn into the horse pasture. We're not sure why -- it's a long way for little legs to run, should the fox decide to show up.

The fox has little ones of her own.

Mike Baum, from Dorset, snapped this picture of the vixen moving one of her kits.  The good news is that is a baby fox she's carrying, and not one of our chickens.  Enough said.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tiny Beauty

This is what you see when you spend some time looking down. Which I have been doing a lot of this week.

The beauty of the woodland violets, and their even smaller more delicate white cousins have taken over in areas near the lake, and parts of the lawn.

Ferns are beginning to unfold. Ants are busy, and will be even busier when the thunderstorm rolls through.  Strawberries are blooming all across the lawn.

Yes, we`ve got dandelions, and to be frank, I`m delighted. They provide food for the dazzlingly lovely American goldfinches, and since we would not be without the one, we need to put up with the other.

The crabapple tree, and it`s partnered plum tree are both coming into glorious bloom outside my door. The air, when you step out and draw breath, is heavy with their perfume, and the hum of the bees hard at work in the sweetness of the blossom. It will take the whole summer before we enjoy the fruits of the crabapple tree...

But, each to its season. We can`t keep ahead of the asparagus, springing out of the ground with almost lightning speed.

Where have Eye Been?

Did you miss me?  I haven't blogged all week.  That's because on Monday, May 16th at 1 pm while checking an email, my retina decided it should detach itself.

Say what you will about the Canadian medical system... within hours I was under a doctor's care. I was directed immediately to St. Michael's hospital in Toronto, and was in emergency surgery before I could even pronounce the technical term for this condition.

The likely cause is from fluid sneaking behind the retina, following a spontaneous bleed into my eye about 6 weeks ago. That was interesting... and scary.  It is one of the rare medical conditions you get to watch happen.  As if someone had dropped ink into a glass, long tendrils of black drifted down through my eye, soon spreading into a net-like pattern. That was followed by dimming vision, as if looking through thick vaseline, and within two minutes,  I could see nothing at all with my left eye. Yes, it's scary.  Off to the doctors...  Much gratitude to my family who downed tools to drive me...

There was no apparent reason for this initial injury. The specialist, rather alarmingly, shrugged and said, sometimes it just happens.  That`s not as reassuring as you might think.  It is, boiled down to the simplest comparison, a bruise within the eye, and there is little to be done until the body has had time to move out the blood that doesn`t belong there.  Which, poor little eye, it was doing steadily. I was able to make out shapes and colours, and this, dearly beloved, was great progress. 

May 13, it was off to a specialist in Mississauga, because the concern was that there was retinal involvement.  He peered deep into my eye, and decided the retina at that time looked fine. See you in two weeks, he said. Carry on.

Monday, May 16, the retina had other ideas. In case you`re curious, it begins as a curtain, or block, in the bottom corner of your vision. Dark purple, rather than black, but with a black edge and no, you can see nothing at all in the affected area.  That`s the initial tear in the retina. It happens at the top of the retina, but since we actually see the image reversed, we notice it at the bottom of the vision field.  I walked to the office, and told the gang that someone had to drive me to the eye specialist. From there, it was all commotion, and off to Toronto.

Because there was still blood from the retinal bleed in the eye, Dr. Muni opted to go directly to surgery... which is best described in construction terms.  The eye is drained, the retina flattened back into place, and spot welded there with lasers. Fluid is reintroduced into the eye, and then... the reason I`ve been out of commission all week, a large bubble of inert gas is inserted in the eye.  It`s job is to help hold the retina in place along the curved back of the eye.  And to do that, the patient (or in this instance, impatient) must spend the next week lying about, face down.  Computers, books, tv are all pretty much frowned on, unless you can get them down on the floor... but following surgery, I didn`t feel much up to coping. The eye hurt. Lying flat -- I looked like I was planking -- hurts the lower back.  The recommendation is to listen to audio books, which I`ve been doing.

I am waiting for a call from Mike Holmes, since I figure I could have a career as a builder`s level... just prop me against the wall, and check my eye to see if the bubble is centered...

I go back to St. Michael`s tomorrow, for a follow up, and hope to be told I can become an upright citizen again.  Eyes are so very precious, there is so much beauty to be seen...

I will keep you posted. Right now, for those who want to know, in that eye I look at the world through this bubble of gas. It looks a little like being underwater... very strange.  Time will tell how good it gets, but when you consider that not all that long ago, a detached retina usually signalled the end of vision as you knew it, I am very blessed to be living in Canada, in 2011, near a major medical centre.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spring Green and Feather Sheen

Leaving a v-wake behind him, this mallard drake was enjoying the early morning sunshine, on the Lake of Bays -- not the blue lake we usually think about, but a spring lake, reflecting spring leaves.

These colours are the reason, when you walk into the paint store, there are about a thousand shades of green...

But I don't think any of them are named "mallard green."  Perhaps they should be!

Cheers for Volunteers

Today was the day the volunteer Firefighters and the Dwight Lions' Club head out along the road for Highway spring clean-up.

You would like to think that after years of public education campaigns, focus on the environment, recycling efforts and -- dare we even say it -- RIDE programs and all the efforts of the groups opposed to drinking and driving... you would like to think that it's making a difference. That people have grasped the simple, courteous and essential concept of Take nothing but Photographs, Leave nothing but Footprints.  If you Pack it In, Pack it Out.  Don't Litter... Don't drink and drive. Oh please, don't... really...

You would be wrong. Sadly.

We've been patrolling 'our' stretch of Fox Point Road for ever.  I remember walking the road with my parents, when I was really young, helping pick up bottles, cans, garbage.  We're still at it.

Brian, Mike and David were out with the Lions' Club today -- this is just their portion of the "haul".  Bottles are separated out, because the Lions' Club uses the money from bottle returns to help fund community programs.  Recycles get separated out, because they -- well, gosh, they get recycled. It takes a lot of time.

It takes a lot of people. So here's a cheer to all the volunteers from Dwight, Firefighters, Lions, Friends and Neighbours, who help pick up the junk.  It's wonderful that you are here, fabulous that you volunteer, sad, really, that it needs to be done...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Trout for Dinner

Vic finally managed to sneak some time away... arriving with his fishing boat on Wednesday.

Thursday, early, he headed off down Lake of Bays in search of the wily trout.  Now, to hear David and Mike, they of the WallEye Fishing Consortium, there are no fish in this lake.  Vic begs to differ.  He, with extensive fishing experience, points out that this is one of the underfished lakes, that there are plenty of fish in the deep blue lake, but that doesn't always translate to ease of capture.  This lake is rich in bait fish, and the smelt run has just finished.  The trout are well fed, and down deep.  Vic reckons it takes about four hours of fishing to get results.  Dave and Mike are of the Fishing School of Thought that if the line has been in the water for 20 minutes, the fish have HAD their chance!!!

Patience is the key ingredient. Vic has that.

He came back with two lovely lake trout.  Much to the puppy's delight. Taffy had never met a fish, up close and personal, and she was very eager to assist in any way possible.

Encouraged by proof of fish, Dave and Mike headed out today to hunt and gather.  For the boys, it was steak on the bbq, again... but Vic has headed home for a true fish feast!

Leaf Out

After Winter's whites and cool blue shades, counterpointed by vivid sunsets, Spring arrives in a burst of colour that takes away the breath.

One day, the trees are gray and purple, hinting at the red of buds and maple flowers. The colours are soft, muted, pastel.  Flowers push up through the grass, dotting highlights of sharp colours.

The next -- and it happens that fast --  the leaves have popped, the trees blossom into soft green.  The bones of the land -- the rocks and shapes that are visible throughout the winter and early spring vanish again under the rush of leaves.       Spring is always in a hurry.  It's been helped along by this suddenly scorchingly hot weather that predicts a hot Summer just waiting in the wings.

See you Later, Alligator

Okay, we get that it's a submerged log... but let me tell you, when you come bopping around the trail past Springside in the early morning, and find this staring at you from the creek, there is a tiny little moment when you just have to say it...

See you later, Alligator...
In a while... Crocodile

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The children of fishermen laugh like saltwater

Congratulations to one of our Bondi Family, Emily Swinkin for winning in the U of T Alumni Short Story and Poetry Contest.  Along with the honour, Emily won $1000 and a spot in the summer issue of the U of T Magazine for her Poem, The Children of Fishermen.

Emily has been coming to Bondi for a very long time, and we look forward to her family's arrival every summer.  We are always delighted to recognize the creative talents  of our friends and guests, and are happy to take this little moment to showcase her lovely poem.

we have been asked to take down the text of the poem, Nov. 25, since McGraw Hill has purchased the rights to it for one year, to include in a poetry anthology.  Hooray for Emily...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Perfect Parsnips!

 Spring -- it's the season to get the garden ready for planting.  Towards that end, Brian gets out the 'big guns' -- the rototiller and big Ford tractor.  Having the right machinery certainly makes the job easier, and since our organic garden is over an acre in size, we need all the help we can get!

Before the whole garden gets worked up, there's some produce to be harvested. Parsnips are best when left in the ground over winter. Harvest them in the spring, and they are as sweet as candy, absolutely delicious! 
Mind you, we didn't quite bargain on the size of them...    This single parsnip could probably feed a small African country...  You'll never see these in a grocery store, where our produce is expected to come wrapped in plastic and all exactly the same.  On the other hand, you'll never taste anything sweeter than these big oddly shaped parsnips either.  One summer Carol had some children on a tour in the garden -- they weren't able to identify even a carrot, and when they learned that carrots grew in the ground (as opposed to on a Carrot Tree) they got all upset -- after all, one is never to eat anything that has been on (or in?) the ground.  It is a sad commentary really on how far away from the real world we are travelling.

Here at Bondi we still believe it is important to get your hands into the soil, to know where your food comes from, and what goes into its production.                                                         Brian found the parsnip that in the dictionary is the picture that defines a "tap root."  That's also an educational thing!  Our guests very much enjoy the chance to buy super fresh produce from our garden in season, and organic eggs from our chickens.
Once the parsnips were harvested (and yes, we did make an entire meal out of them -- incredibly delicious!!!)  then the vintage Cub tractor came out, complete with the same drag on the back that has marked out our garden rows at Bondi since that tractor arrived in the early 1950's.  That's because, when something is perfect, there's just no reason to mess with it.

Friday, May 6, 2011


The higher you are to the management position, the farther you are supposed to be from the working end of the shovel.

So Kevin O'Leary tells us.

Brian, in his role as Management Services, put this to the test, relaxing on his shovel while supervising David excavating one of the water lines for upgrades.

Keep digging, David... one day, all these pipes and valves will be yours...

Beautiful Music

Under the watchful eye of our grandfather, Joseph Tapley, our guests this week were making beautiful music in the library of the six bedroom LODGE.

Piano, guitar, violin, and voices all blended together to make a joyful noise.

Joseph, who was a star with Gilbert and Sullivan, playing on stage during the 1880's and 1890's in England, Australia and New Zealand, would very much have approved!

Location, Location, Location

Mr. and Mrs. Tree Swallow were busy today, checking out all the bird boxes on offer.

It's important to pick the right house for the summer.  So much to consider -- the view, the neighbourhood, proximity to the food court...

They are lovely birds, so graceful in flight and so very much part of summer in Ontario.

From Skis to Suckers, Mike's Back!

Mike spent the winter 'hanging out' in B.C., working at Grouse, weekending at Whistler, generally logging time on skiis. Double Black Diamond? He laughs at that.

Looking to continue the thrill ride, he's back with the BMD (Bondi Maintenance Dept.) again this summer, and we're delighted.

Birthday presents this year included quite a collection of fishing tackle and lures, so we suspect he's going to swap skis for fishing rods for the summer.

Last night, the BMD took a jaunt to check out some of the local streams where the smelt run is currently underway.  Smelt, we are told, run in the spring until the buds on the poplars are as big as a chipmunk's ear.

We checked... seemed to be safe enough, although they're getting close in size. 

Armed with a large net and a big flashlight, off they went.  The first stream yielded only a few smelt working their way upstream. Not enough to be exciting...  Off to the second stream -- where they struck it big.  The smelt were streaming upstream, so to speak.  They scooped up a netful, but when confronted with the reality of coming home late and having to clean the fish, they let them go again.

Mike spotted several large fish, lazily hanging in the current.  He bent down and scooped one up... Fishing with bare hands. Look Ma, No Bait!

He had landed a white sucker, probably weighing about four or five pounds. "What is this?" he asked, unfamiliar with the large fish that likes to hang out along the bottom of the lakes and streams, sort of vacuuming up food through it's big pouty lips.

"Bugle mouth bass" Brian replied, without missing a beat.  This fish, too, was returned to the stream.

A good night fishing. A better night live-releasing.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Muskoka Makes You Smarter

It's been a wonderful week.  First, the National Geographic Travel Editors agreed on something we've known for a long time. They chose Muskoka as their Top Summer Travel Destination, with the whole world to choose from.

Then, CBC Radio, on their show The Current, aired a great documentary about Nature, and why we need it.  Called Urban by Nature, the piece looks at how spending time outside, surrounded by trees, fields, lakes and wildlife not only restores the soul and nourishes the body, but improves the mind.  It's well worth pulling up a cup of coffee, and giving a little listen.

A walk through a pine forest has been proven to raise IQ and improve cognitive functions such as the ability to focus on a task.  That's because you can inhale the substance called alpha pinene, found in (who'd a thunk) Pine trees, Rosemary and eucalyptus.

Now it seems there is a full blown crisis, with a name: Nature Deficit Disorder. Studies are amassing more and more evidence that it is critical to Get Out of Town, and spend some time in the great outdoors in order to allow your lovely prefontal cortex to relax, restore, re-set.  The constant assault of city noise, smells, flashing lights and the chemical stew that passes for air on the human body does in fact take a huge toll. The lack of engagement with the real world takes a huge toll on our brains  -- much more than was previously understood.

We've been rattling on about this for a long time now. Carol wanted to put a copy of Last Child in the Woods in every cottage when it was published.

So, since it's now been proven that a walk in the piney woods can make you smarter, what could be smarter than booking a Summer Vacation in Muskoka?

We hate to say it, but we've known it all along...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

This Bud's for You

Rebecca, from Bark Nursery, dropped by today.  We are still working at saving our heritage apple tree, well over a hundred years old and still bearing the most amazing apples.  Carol has been diligent in her efforts to propogate seeds, and root cuttings.  We even tried to revive a broken limb that was too heavy for the rotting trunk to support any more.

We tried air-layering, but with limited success.  Rebecca brought with her the tools to do some bud grafts. We are optimistic that we will be able to keep these apples around for some time to come!

Bud grafts are fascinating, and fascinatingly simple.  A tiny leaf bud (and yes, I had to learn the difference between a flower bud and a leaf bud) is sliced away with a razor blade.  It is taken to another apple tree, where a small slit is cut into the cambian layer. The little slice with the bud on it is slotted into that slit, bound in tightly with a grafting elastic (or wax -- we opted for the elastics, since we couldn't figure a way to keep the wax warm enough today, with the chilly wind). That seals out the air, and the bud can grow into the existing tree, eventually creating its own branch -- with its own special variety of apples.

Rebecca, who along with her husband Peter Buwalda, won a Natural Heritage Award in 2008 for their Nursery and Ecologic Garden enterprise near Baysville, is very interested in preserving heritage and native species. She's done some work for us at the resort, restoring some eroded shorelines, and she's done a lot of work around the Lake of Bays educating and restoring waterfront properties.

She is passionate about her work, about preserving our natural heritage, about our native plants and animals.  We're pretty sure, however, that Ed Lawrence, radio personality and author of Gardening Grief and Glory, never had to work under such trying conditions as Achmed the Cat provided...

Thanks Rebecca!  We know you'll be back to keep an eye on these tiny little buds, and join us in wishing them well as they grow to their potential.