To all our friends at Christmas, 2016
Last Christmas, we were looking around wondering “where’s the snow?” We had one of our very rare green Christmas days in 2015 – to keep with tradition, David went downhill skiing, on an old pair of beater skis, in the gravel pit. No snow did make the hike up the Mountain easier. Of course, the snow arrived. Brian had the unique experience of canoeing in the morning, and plowing the driveway in the afternoon on New Years’ Day.
While our winter conditions were unusual, we had enough snow that all our guests were able to enjoy winter activities while David and Brian were kept busy grooming the ski trails, clearing the rink, moving snow. Again. And again. In January, David snapped a photo of a running mink in mid-leap at the lake: dubbed Hover mink. That went viral on our FB page reaching well over 15K people.
At the end of January David and photographer Kelly Holinshead set up a secret photo shoot on the Lookout for our guest Corey to propose to Chelsea. Back at the resort, Carol and Megan were decorating the cottage, and hoping she’d say Yes! She did.
Brian gave new meaning to the phrase “blazing trail” when his snowmobile caught fire – due to a mouse nest in the engine – while he was grooming ski trails.
In March Nancy succumbed to the absence of a cat, and went to the local animal shelter to seek one out. Cat selected, all was well until she was shown a pair of tiny kittens that had just arrived. She came home with three cats. David described them as the ‘starter kit for the crazy cat lady.’ Names and cats both evolved, and we now have blue-eyed Indigo, jester Pemberley and little prickly Thistle. Taffy, now 6, is kept busy herding cats. Or is it the other way round?
Nancy is still Councillor for Lake of Bays, and also Deputy Mayor. Chair of the Heritage Committee… etc. Her phone rings a lot.
Dave spent the winter developing an official “site plan” for the resort’s future. Seems you can do nothing now without massive layers of bureaucracy, much of it obstructive and designed for big cities. All we wanted was to re-develop an existing cottage. If we ever get through the red tape, that may happen in 2017… At the moment, after almost a year, we are still waiting on approvals from various agencies, which has pushed costs up to a ridiculous level, so we’re not delighted.
We are always improving: while you don’t see some of this, such as new septic systems, you will notice the new siding on Longside, and the fact that the old boathouse at Springside is no longer leaning… Plus there are new beds, furniture, curtains and appliances in many units.
April melt brought very high water levels again. Many area docks and boathouses were affected, particularly in south Muskoka where they have not yet figured out that fluctuating water levels and million dollar boathouses don’t mix well. We had barrels on our docks to hold them down, while the water flowed above them, and fortunately the ice didn’t move in on our shore. When ice moves, nothing stops it, so don’t count on an ice-away.
Dave and Mike went to Whistler Blackcomb for a week’s skiing, on the slopes from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to be sure they got their moneys worth! This was Dave’s first time skiing outside of Ontario – and he has plans underway to return. No sooner had they gone than Megan slipped on ice and broke her arm. Dave’s first day home from his vacation involved driving her to the hospital for surgery. Luckily she has healed well. It put a stop to her Dance class with Aerial silks, but it didn’t slow her down this fall when she signed up for ballet classes. She is also learning to ride, and enjoying that immensely. We now have an Instagram account for Bondi (@bondicottageresort) – it’s hard to keep up with all this social media!—that is Megan’s creation. With her new camera, she is getting fabulous photos.
We always have lots of wildlife here at Bondi. David and Megan live at the epicentre: visited by nesting snapping turtles, they also had the local wolf pack at their creek ,a doe with twin fawns, and a lovely momma bear and twin cubs dropping by for morning coffee. We’ve got a pair of otters in the bay this autumn, but the beaver seems to have moved on. Ducks arrived early, and stayed until Dec. 12, when the bay froze over. Wild turkeys were also abundant. Our swallows came back, like clockwork, on April 14, but less barn swallows than we had hoped to see.
In May we welcomed guests who were seeking respite from the Fort McMurray forest fire – with only 20 minutes notice to leave their home, they were happy to be able to spread out in our Lodge and take a few deep breaths. We were also able to enjoy a wonderful concert with one of Carol’s favourite singers, Steve Bell.
Spring sees us in high gear getting ready for summer. Nancy wrote and produced two short plays, presented as Live Radio Plays, which reduced rehearsal requirements. One was an old-style radio mystery, the second a play about our family and unforeseen connections between people along the way. It was very well received at the Library fundraiser. David and Megan both had parts, and took over the Special Effects as well.
The garden was a little late getting planted, and then the heat arrived, so it didn’t’ do as well with some vegetables as with others. The corn crop was excellent, and always appreciated by our guests. And apples – did we have apples! Bumper crop! Carol successfully harvested cantaloupes in late September, and the beans just kept coming.
Summer. What can we say? For two months, we go flat out. It was a busy season. And hot. And sunny. While we normally book up early, this year we had some very late cancellations, so it’s good to check with us if you are thinking of a stay with us and not sure if we have space. If you are on our email list, you’ll hear from us if there are spaces suddenly open too!
This summer we added free tubing rides for our guests on Wednesdays. It kept David busy, and was very popular. This joins our Pony Rides on Squeegee, Dark Skies and Wolf Howls, Marathon Swim and Wiener Roast on the list of activities we offer right here.
You know it is a hot summer when Carol goes swimming – it has to be WARM for her. 6 a.m. on July 28, she took the plunge with the lake over 80 degrees.
Brian and David flew up to look at the Radio Telescope at Brent, on the north side of Algonquin. It is huge – visible from 10 miles away from the air, and is a unique facility. You can visit – they have tours available.
We were fortunate to have Sarah here again this summer, for the whole season. She is a tremendous asset and an excellent worker. Plus, she puts miles on Nancy’s horses. And she scored some of the best pictures we got all year for the Blog and FB pages! She is currently in a Nursing program at University, so summer classes sadly mean we probably won’t be able to have her with us next summer.
How wonderful to welcome the next generation of “Bondi Babies” – there were a lot of them this year! Sadly, we said good-bye to some long-time guests and friends including our cousin Mary Louise Wratten, Dan O’Neill, Jim Hadden and Susan Nielsen. Brian notes that while he used to get wedding invites, now he gets death notices, He thinks perhaps it is time to get the history and experiences stored in his brain onto paper. We hope he’s serious about that. If he follows through over the winter, Margaret Atwood had better look out for HIS book!
Just as winter was slow starting, summer hung on late into the fall. We were still swimming until late September, and the leaves had barely begun to turn by then. Sadly, in September Beverly Payne who has lived “forever” in our apartment at the ‘Mink Ranch’ fell and broke her hip. She cannot return to the upstairs apartment and is now living with her son. She was a fixture at the resort since the 1960s, so we will miss not having her, and her post card collection, next door.
Dave and Mike completed renovations to their fish-huts which now light up like Christmas morning. All they need is ice. And fish.
While autumn colours seemed to be a bit slow starting, they were right on schedule with fabulous display lasting well past Thanksgiving. Algonquin Park is almost unbearably busy now over the high colour season weekends – our trails are uncroweded, filled with great vistas, lots of wildlife and all the colour of the Park, so our guests get the best of the season right here with us (and enjoy the Park mid-week!).
Because we were expecting to be busy re-building Cedars cottage, no big trips were planned this fall. Instead, Brian and Carol had a getaway in the Buffalo/Corning and Niagara Falls area, doing the ‘tourist’ stuff there. Dave and Megan are celebrating (late) their second anniversary with a vacation to Niagara Falls to see the lights – we have become real Ontario Tourists.
The mild weather stayed until early December, letting us finish a lot of outdoor jobs. When the snow came, however, it came for sure. December 14th brought us about 2’ of snowfall – up to our knees overnight!. Ski trails are up and running.
It’s a good excuse to be inside by the fire, writing this Christmas letter to all our friends. Once a year, we pause to draw breath, consider the year just past and look forward to the adventures to come. And to remember the real reason for the season. Christmas is, on every level, about sharing and coming together, in gratitude and friendship . 2017 looks to be an interesting trip – let us all remember to be gentle in our thoughts, kind in our hands, inclusive in our acts and generous in our spirit.
From all the Tapleys at Bondi