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.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Keep your fork, Duke, there's Pie

The title of this post is taken from the famous quotation of the waitress serving the Duke of Edinburgh at a ceremonial dinner in a distant northern Canadian city. As she removed the main course plate, she recommended to the Duke, "Keep your fork, Duke, there's Pie."

Pie is important. So is having a fork to eat it...

Skiing and snowshoeing is only part of the getaway adventure. Food always features big in gatherings. We celebrate our friendships with good food, good conversations, good times.

Jan knows this well, so last week, while most of the 'Gang' were out on the trails, she whipped up a Peaches 'N Cream Tart for dessert.

From all reports, it tasted as good as it looked, and it sure didn't last very long! What is it they say about making good meals? Takes two hours to make, and two minutes to consume? Something like that...

Here's the recipe for this no-cook tasty treat. Thanks so much to Jan for sharing!

Jan's Famous No-Bake Peaches "N Cream Tart

1 398 ml can peach halves in fruit juice, drained

3/4 cup (175 ml) sour cream

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 cup whipping cream

3 tbsp icing sugar

1 9" graham cracker crust

Fresh mint leaves.

1) Chop peaches into bite size pieces on paper towel-lined plate.

2) Whisk together sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Stir in peaches.

3) Beat cream and icing sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold into sour cream and peaches mixture.

4) Scrape mixture into graham cracker crust. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.5) Using a long knife dipped in hot water cut tart, garnish with fresh mint leaves. Dust with cinnamon if desired.

Serves 6.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Stitch in Time, literally

The Dwight Friends of the Library do a lot of wonderful stuff, for the library, and in turn for the community.

To celebrate their contributions, several years back the Friends created a beautiful embroidered quilt showcasing the names of all the Lifetime members of the Friends.

Since then, that number has grown. So, it's time for another quilt.

There's a 3 hour course, with Joanne Misener, that will explain the process of transforming the quilt pattern into an actual quilt. That's happening Wed. Feb. 10, from 6 to 9 p.m. at GONE QUILTING, 14 Main St. East, Huntsville. That's also when they'll be picking fabric, etc. The cost is just $10/person to attend.

The quilt itself will be stitched at the library in Dwight. Please give the librarians a call at 705 635 3319 if you'd like to join in either the quilt class or the project. Or both.

The stitches in this quilt, like those in the one currently gracing the wall, will be timeles...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Squeegee's Diet Fashionista Outfit

When you are a shetland pony, as is Squeegee, and there is a huge round bale of hay -- sort of an endless buffet -- in front of you, it's a bit of a problem.
The pony is already broader in the beam than is recommended... and he just can't resist eating. Non stop.
The options are limited: he can go in a small pen by himself, where the amount of hay provided is very reduced. He can stay inside, which provides the reduced calories but prevents him from hanging out with his friends, and encourages him to just lie on the couch and watch tv all day (so to speak)
Or, he can strap on the latest in diet aids: a grazing muzzle. This contraption allows him to eat, but he has to work harder to get the food through the holes... it slows down his calorie intake, speeds up the effort involved to get those calories. It lets him hang out with his buddies, running around in the paddock and playing. You can see, through the snow in the photo taken today, that he can get strands of hay in, so don't fret that the pony is being completely frustrated.
We occasionally get asked if he is wearing this because he bites. Well, no... and yes... Not people (Squeegee is on the list for Sainthood when it comes to letting little fingers poke, prod and provide carrots)... but hay, that he will bite, and bite and bite and chew and swallow and convert to padding where ponies don't need that much padding...
It's an interesting idea... the strategic location of the holes allows him to eat, oh, say, carrot sticks and celery, but the hamburger can't fit through. I wonder if we could sell this to one of the Diet Fad companies, and get Squeegee a 'gig' on National T.V.????

January Thaw, Short and almost Sweet

The January thaw arrived late on Sunday. It brought with it rain, which is not fun, because it turns the ski and snowmobile trails into a slushy mess, soaks coats and mittens, and puts down a wicked sheen of ice where you'd like to walk. The good news was that the thaw seemed short lived -- by afternoon today it had turned back into snow. After all, winter is just way more fun when you can get out and play with it!

On the up-side, it watered up the lakes, which will now freeze harder, and better, and it will probably have provided almost limitless skating opportunities. It's all about choice -- and we choose to see the good in the mild bout of thaw, and there was very little complaint heard...

Not from the squirrel, who has long ago figured out how to by-pass the security systems for the Squirrel-Proof feeder... and not from the deer, who rely on those thick long coats to keep the water on the surface and not let them get drenched down to their skin.

And not from our guests! They arrived in the midst of the rain -- the Over-the-Hill Gang, here for their annual getaway. "We don't care if it rains," Barb told me, "we're just delighted to be here, and all together!"
Which backs up our theory that a bad weather day here is better than a good weather day in the city.
We've still got plenty of snow on the ground, and more on the way all week -- the winter conditions should be good after today, trails open again, and a whole lot of winter to celebrate!div>

Teamwork and school projects

Saturday was a lovely March day. Only problem, it was here in January... but never mind that, we'll take days like that one anytime they care to drop by. It was so sunny and warm, the horses all had their winter rugs off and went happily out to roll in the snow, and spend half the afternoon scratching each other's backs. They made lovely pictures in the snow, with their coats of black, white and chestnut.

For Bailey, the day wasn't all about lounging outside and celebrating the arrival of the big round bales of hay. He was pressed into service for a School Project. Laurel, 10, has her own pony, but where he's kept there's really no place to ride in the winter. She is completing a project for winter electives, and like so many young riders, she's picked one of her idols: Hickstead. Now, along with Hickstead, who is undoubtedly one of the best show jumpers the planet has ever seen, comes his rider Eric Lamaze. They are a team, and a pretty indivisible team at that. Eric is quite a story all by himself, having had a pretty rough start and having had to dig deep to turn his life around. At the Beijing Olympics, this pair brought home not only a Team Silver medal, but the Individual Gold.

For young riders everywhere, that's the stuff of dreams.

Bailey did his best to rise to the occasion with his petite rider. He even jumped her over a miniature of one of the jumps Hickstead soars over at Spruce Meadows, the famous bendy Canadian flag fence. (We have just one plank that is modeled on this jump -- it has 8 sections of veneer, and I hate to think what it cost to create!) Bailey figures, if he has anything to do with it, he'll do his best to help Laurel get an A++.
And Laurel? She helps finance her pony by making and selling beaded bookmarks through the Dwight Library. Pick one up next time you're there.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

If Frost makes a Poem, do we call it a Rime?

There are several springs located along our shorefront. Come winter, some of these bubble up enough water to keep from freezing, creating small pools of water along the shore edge that are ideal for the animals coming to drink. These are much harder to find come summer, when the water level covers them, because the springs are small and delicate things.

They are ideal for anyone looking for beauty in the small details. The colours in the sand that comes up from the spring, the patterns the water leaves trickling over the hard sand, the tracks drawn in the snow by the creatures that come to drink, all are beautiful. Most fantastic and breath-taking of all are these exquisite frost creations that blossom along the
water's edge. Soft rime forms when water droplets form on objects -- often following fog, or mild weather, or in this case, the evaporation of the water from the spring.
Soft rime is feathery, and milky in colour. Hard rime is not so milky white in colour, and looks more like a comb than a feather. It is also much harder to remove than this delicate form of soft rime, which is itself closely akin to the hoar frost you see on windows in all sort of fantastic designs.
The subtle differences in these frosts is probably only of huge interest if you're about to find them forming on the leading wing on your airplane...
The word comes from the Old English, via Old Norse... from hrim, which means 'frost'. Go figure.
It always strikes me as one of Nature's poems, the repetition of the design, the whimsical shapes... so perhaps it's just fitting that it is referred to as "rime."

Achmed Teaches History

This is a completely 'fluffy' and silly post... but then, I had help...

During a conversation with David, the discussion arose about domestic animals that have gone to war for us. Horses, obviously, God save them all, who carried cavalry, pulled guns and supplies, and died in the mud and hell of battlefields since the first horse allowed Man to sit on his back. Mules. Donkeys. Camels. Elephants, stomping across the Alps with Hannibal, who needed some lessons in climatology. Dogs, who carry messages, sniff out dangers and fight alongside their handlers. Dolphins, equipped by the Navy with weird devices to go look for mines. Even pigeons (but no record of chickens) have been pressed into our battles carrying messages.
“But not cats,” David suggested, as Achmed rolled over on the desk and grabbed David’s fingers in his claws. I think he was using those needle sharp claws to make a point. There was an occasion, in recorded history, when cats got up from their place by the fire and went into battle. Not willingly, I’m sure. In ancient Egypt, the cat was sacred. People had to stop what they were doing to render aid to an injured cat. To cause death to a cat was to suffer a hundred nasty hells. In short, you didn’t want injured, dying cats anywhere near you if you hoped to continue a long and peaceful life. The Romans knew this, and during a siege, they gathered up all the cats they could get their hands on, and fired them over the walls into the city streets, causing mass panic and crippling the fighting forces, who were thrown into great confusion and distress by the sight of cats being destroyed all around. It is a odd, tearful, sidenote to a greater history, but to Achmed, he of the long ginger fur and inquisitive nature, it matters. He set the matter straight, with a little help from David in spelling the longer wordsd, and unabashed by lack of rhyme or political correctness...

Achmed Teaches History

The walls, gray and high...
Without, the shouts of Romans
Within, panic and fear
The sky darkens
Furballs appear
Strange blossoms in the sky
Unfolding, brown, black, white and gray
Some ginger. Some the shade of saffron.
The sky alive with caterwaul
The cats have breached the walls
Flung from trebuchet.
Cats fired over walls...
The CAT, as Missile...
Sacred cats, descending
Into the streets of Egypt
Mi.... splat...

Sled Heads, Take Note

This is a snowmobile trail groomer. More specifically, it is the groomer for our local Algonquin Snowmobile Club. It's big. It makes great trails.

January 30 is the date for the Algonquin Snowmobile Club's Annual Chili Cook-off, at McCann Camp. That means that there will be smokin' hot chili, chili that will lift the roof off your mouth, chili that will set your eyes watering when you're still riding in to the camp on your sled. But it's all good...

Did you know there is one type of chili who's Mexican name translates to 'gringo killer'? Well, it will probably be at the Chili Cook-off, too!

Visit the ASC website for details.

They've got lots more action coming up. There's a course for kids, Driver Training, on Feb. 6th at the Oxtongue Lake Community Centre. After all, if you're going to drive, you should know how to drive safe, yes?

February 13 is the Celebration of the Sled at Oxtongue Lake. Test drives, new models, power tour, BBQ... There's no place to ride like right here in North Muskoka and Oxtongue Lake.

Easy Gliding, Easy Riding

The second week the AMCC is here, it's the winter group, styled the EASY GLIDERS (these folks come up with the BEST names!)

Helen sent along some of their photos to share, too. Not just pictures of their smiling faces gliding along the ski trails, but on a side-trip to Andrews Oxen, where they had a sleigh ride with Spark and Star. That's something different from the 'usual' horse drawn sleigh, and the oxen are quite the characters when you get to know them.

The sunset provided a lovely backdrop for some of the deer walking in front of the Lodge, too.

Thanks for sending us the pictures! We love to get them.

Ski Trails, Wolf Tracks

Nobody knows how to have more fun with winter than the folks with the Ancient Mariners Canoe Club. They come several times during the year -- and no, in January they don't bring their canoes... They swap them for skis and snowshoes.

And nobody got better weather this year than they did. It's been glorious out there, and the gang certainly made the best of it. It was pretty late in the day before they rolled back indoors for happy hour!

Ralph kindly provided us with photos of some of their excursions. Along with others in the group, Ralph snowshoed to the Lookout to check out the overview of Bondi in winter's white.

Up near the Hawk's Lake Ralph found himself skiing over fresh wolf tracks up near the Hawk's Lake trail. While there were plenty of tracks, and they saw lots of deer, nobody this week caught sight of the other half of that balancing equation, the wolves themselves!

They did find a set of rabbit tracks, that sadly for the rabbit but happily for the owl ended abruptly, with just the hint of wings traced beside them in the snow. And they spotted a snowshoe hare, busily laying down his own set of tracks.

The sun out was so bright, and the temperatures mild, and it was just not possible to stay indoors!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pretty as a Christmas CArd

We're getting some lovely mild temperatures -- still cold enough to keep the snow, but warm enough to make being outside almost irresistable.

That mild weather means there's moisture in the air -- and that settles on the trees, turns to frost overnight, and greets the morning with images like these. These were sent to me by Gloria Woodside, and we're delighted to share them here.

Banff Mountain Films, and a birthday bash.

Yesterday we headed out to catch the Banff Mountain Film Festival at the Algonquin Theatre in Huntsville. If you've never caught this World Tour of short films from the festival, you should take a peek around, see where it's playing, and go. Really. You should. It's amazing.
There was a touch of humour as we were en route -- one of Dave's friends texted him, the usual, "what are you doing?"
"Going to the Banff Mountain Film Festival," he replied.
"NOW? How long a drive is that????"

Lucky for us, the World Tour brings the films to Huntsville, and we're not still slogging through Saskatchewan on the way to the Banff centre... What a wonderful assortment of films were on view, from cross country skiers gone crazy, white water kayaking in some previously un-run African rivers, a song project in Tibet, a free climber who scurried up Yosemite's Half Dome in a couple of hours, with no break for lunch; to David's fav... the mountain bikers who from all appearances have a serious death wish. These lads do things on their mountain bikes that I didn't think were within the laws of physics... (maybe I missed that class...) And who can but smile when watching Dom Gill, on his quest to cycle 32,000 km. from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego on a tandem bike, picking up hitchhikers as he pedals...
So here's a resounding Thank You to Algonquin Outfitters and the host of sponsors who helped to bring this show to town. AO has been hosting the Festival here for years. Lots of years. In fact, I believe this is the year that AO turns 50. That's a lot of years spent outfitting folks for the great outdoors, and nobody does it better than AO. Their canoe store is located just down the road from us, at Oxtongue Lake, and Bikes and Boards is also nearby, at Huntsville. We often joke with our guests, as they head off to see what camping and outdoor equipment is on offer at the Oxtongue Lake store that these guys have EVERYTHING... including the penknife that unfolds into a log cabin. That might be an exageration (maybe it only unfolds into a tent, who knows?) but what is true is that if you need gear for the great outdoors, these folks have it.
AO also hosts the Winter Assembly. This year, it's their 16th Annual assembly, and it's on February 20. If you needed that little extra nudge to bring you out of the city for a weekend, this could be it. Family-oriented and fun, it's got free lessons and equipment try-outs, snowshoe races and hikes, dogsled rides and a storewide sale.

So here's to you Algonquin Outfitters! We're thrilled you're our neighbours. Happy Birthday! Rock on!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ready for My Close-Up

Gary, over at the Algonquin Inn on Oxtongue Lake, has the kind of camera I dream about. (My birthday is in May, if you're all wondering what to club together and get for me... hint hint)

He's also located within the proverbial stone's throw of Algonquin Park, and spends a lot of his time in the Park, that fancy camera in hand. He is also, unlike myself, imbued with enough patience to Wait for the Shot. (It's the reason I don't fish... impatience... after all, I figure I dropped the bait down there, the fish had their chance... you snooze, you lose)

Sometimes Gary sends us photos to put on our Blog - he's been over here taking close-ups of our bluebirds, chickadees, fawns, for instance.

So today I'm posting one of his portraits, this one of a Pine Marten he found in the Park, near the Visitor Centre bird feeders. Go to his Nature Blog to read the whole post, and see more of his photos of this lovely little critter, and a whole lot more!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Zip Goes the Weasel

Despite the number of folks gathered in Arrowhead Provincial Park for the Ontario Winter Games, the "locals" were going about business as usual.

That business, however, happens fast, and is hard to photograph... so these are perhaps not the best pictures of a weasel in his winter white. The short-tail weasel, also called a stoat, sheds out his brown summer coat in the fall and puts on this excellent camouflage. When they are in their white coats, the animal is referred to as an ermine, or as 'being in ermine'. The entire coat turns snowy white, except for a distinctive black tip on the tail. That little splotch of ink serves a purpose -- any predator who spots the ermine's movement will be drawn by the black tail-tip, and will aim for that. Which of course means the predator will most likely land behind the target!

The winter ermine has been used in art as a symbol of purity or virginity. (although the chickens will tell you a very different story -- the last thing you ever want is to get a weasel in a chicken coop, summer or winter!) The white fur was highly prized, and used in the robes of the Lord Chief Justice of England. The furs would be sewn together, the tail-tips making a pattern of black dots on a white ground. The Pope's ceremonial robes are trimmed in ermine, as are those of the Queen of England's Order of the Garter robes. A version of this pattern is used in heraldry as ermine tincture. Both the animal and the heraldic tincture are symbols of Brittany. .

This chap, however, had no intention or aspiration to garnish the collar of a velvet robe. He was busy climbing trees and zipping through the fallen branches, in pursuit of his next meal.

We saw several of them, boldly running across the ski course during a quiet moment, and vanishing into the pines.
It's always nice when the locals come out to cheer at these events.

Very very Classic

The Classic divison of the Ontario Winter Games Nordic Ski Races ran today at Arrowhead Provincial Park. Conditions were excellent -- very fast -- over tracks that had been meticulously prepared by the trail-team of Jason, Ian and Jason, who had been at it late into the previous night and again this morning.

The wax crews were hard at work, putting meticulous finishes on the skis to give the athletes the best possible chance.

There were even signs posted to ensure the athletes had up to the minute information on conditions and recommended wax for the skis.
Waxless skis, with rough "fish scales" under the foot aren't favoured by racers. To achieve the fastest glide and the best kick, you need to understand the science of snow, and the physics of the ski, and how wax works.

The competitors and their support crews weren't the only folks there -- quite a lot of specators were out enjoying the day. Mike, Scott and Jodi from the Organizing Committee for the Ontario Winter Games were on hand at the finish to cheer the athletes, all of them sporting "correctly tied" scarves.

The classic race is marked by a mass start - that kept the start team busy to ensure that each competitor was at the correct marker point at the seven lane start. Shortly after the start, these lanes converge to two, and stay that way for the duration of the race. Which was 7.5 km for the Juvenile Section (ages 14 & 15), and 10 km. for the rest. Given the hills at Arrowhead, those are long kilometres, no matter how you kick the skis.
Often sport is it's own reward, and there are personal bests, small triumphs and tragedies that go hand in hand with any competition -- a broken ski, a lost pole, a fall on the hill... but there is a victory in crossing the finish line all the same. And at the end of the day, when all the scores were tallied, for those upon who's stars converged, who were able to pull together on that day the best physical performance, strategy, and heart, there were medals. The medals for the Ontario Winter Games in Muskoka are beautiful things, indeed.
It was an excellent day, even though those of us at the finish line were kept scrambling with the close finishes! It was a wonderful way to showcase Arrowhead Provincial Park, too!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dropping by Dwight

We aren't the only ones around with deer hanging about. This chap came out to say "Hello" when I dropped it at our cousins', at Logging Chain Lodge in Dwight. Anne-Marie says he's robbing the birdfeeders. He's also eating their shrubs...
Logging Chain has a beautiful location facing down to Dwight Beach. This has to be one of the best and biggest beaches on the Lake of Bays. While they have a private section of this beach, most of it is a public beach, and very popular all year round. They tend to get snowmobilers in the winter -- and their location connecting to both the main lake trail and the rest of the Muskoka Snowmobile trails is ideal, so anyone still considering a seasonal rental so they can ride, ride, ride... give them a call! With Haliburton Snowmobile Rentals handily located close by, there's no reason you can't spend your time on the trails this winter.
At this time of year, the fish huts start to blossom out there on the ice. These can be extravagant creations, with heat, stoves, t.v.'s... or they can be as simple as sitting on a bucket with a hole in the ice in front of you, but they are always popular!
Also popular this winter is the skating rink you can see in the foreground. Someone brought down a bench, and it has been expanded and is kept clear. It's a wonderful thing when a community gets together on something like this -- a great activity for the whole family! There's a special magic in skating on a lake, not in an arena or artificial rink!

Faster, Higher, Farther...

Well, definitely, FASTER! I was volunteering at the finish line of the Nordic Ski races component of the Ontario Winter Games. It's on at Arrowhead Provincial Park, just north of Huntsville, today and tomorrow. Today was the sprints, and let me tell you, those kids are blazingly fast.

The race opened by running them up a hill. Now me, if I had to ski up that hill, I'd be dialing 9-1 at the bottom, because it would save me all sorts of time getting medical aid when I collapsed at the top, only needing to hit one more number... These whippersnappers RAN up it.

Arrowhead is the home of the Arrowhead Nordic Ski Club, and it is a world-class facility for nordic skiing. This park is smaller than Algonquin, but so conveniently located to the town of Huntsville that it draws a lot of action. Groomed hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and toboggan runs lure folks into the great outdoors. And so they should. It was great out there today.

Competitors were here from all over Ontario. Some of the busiest folks were those looking after ski preparation, the wizardry of waxing. Today's conditions ensured that the trails were very fast. We'll see what a drop in the temperature does for tomorrow's snow and the longer classic races! They're taking place in the morning, from 9.30 to noon, and if you want to come on down and watch, spectators are welcome, and there's no charge.

It takes a whole pile of folks to make an event such as this flow. This is the smiling crew who were recording the finishes of the race... (well, all except me, who was handling the camera, but you get the gist of it) and while that is a stressful job, when the skiers start to come very evenly matched, that serious side is no reason not to have a little fun. Before the first competitors, some of the judges helped us check out the timing -- do note that they have worked hard to emulate the skiers, thrusting forward the leading foot at the line, because the clock stops when the skier's toe hits that line.

It's a good thing we practised. You can see in the video clip just how close some of the finishes were! Why so many people? Well, back-up partly -- because it's important, and easy to miss the details. Because there were some, ahem, glitches, with the technological timing equipment, and those 'eyes on the ground' are crucial.

Congratulations to all the competitors. It was amazing to watch you blister round that course.

The rest of the Ontario Winter Games events take place in March. The ski portion had to happen early, because those pesky Olympics in Vancouver interfered with it... (said she, smiling) Maybe not this year in Vancouver, but for sure at a future winter Games, you're going to see some of the skiers that ripped up Arrowhead this weekend.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Happy Bondi New Year!

That was how Kayleigh greeted her grandparents, Bill and Nancy, this morning as they set off for their Annual Bondi Weekend. "Happy Bondi New Year!" she cried, zooming in to wake them up. Her teacher reports Kayleigh has been talking about little else this week other than her trip to the 'college' as she calls us. College, cottage... you say potato...

There is a wonderful thing that happens with family traditions, and we are delighted to be a part of the Baillie Family's. 2010 celebrates their 30th year at Bondi. That's impressive. And a little humbling. And a whole lot of wonderful.
We gave them a carved wooden bowl to commemorate the occasion. But the real memories for the Baillie family won't be in anything as tangible as that. The real good stuff will be the memories of the faces of the children, the grandchildren, the great grandchildren... and the bonds formed through years of family traditions.
We're honoured to be part of that, and hope it continues, this Happy Bondi New Year, for a long, long time.

Mesi Anpil.... it's 'Thank you' in Haitian.

The earthquake that tore Haiti apart is something beyond our imagining. Most folks can't get their heads around the kind of numbers that are coming at us... the injured, the lost, the dead. The photos on the covers of today's Toronto Star and The Sun were somehow surreal and beyond comprehension.

With a disaster on this kind of scale, it's hard to bring it home, to come to grips with how to begin to help. Well, the short answer there is, send money. It is going to take a LOT of $$$ to get the necessary aid to these people. And while there are no shortage right now of places collecting for Haiti, we've got two we'd ask you to consider.

Our long-term guests and friends Mick and Lil Stewart have a personal connection to this, the poorest of the countries in the Western Hemisphere where the average annual wage is $560. (that's, like, one cup of coffee a day)
They write:
"We have a personal connection to Haiti, through Hôpital Albert Schweitzer which is located at Deschapelles, a small town about 70km from Port-au-Prince. Mick is a board member of "Canadian Friends of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer", and Lil is on the events committee. Several years ago, Mick spent a few weeks at H.A.S. as part of a work team. Each year, several of our members visit. Our chairman serves as vice-president of the Foundation which owns and administers the hospital.

The two mandates of our Canadian Friends organization are to build awareness of Haiti and this hospital, and to raise funds.Upon first news of the earthquake our immediate thoughts of course, were for our friends and acquaintances at the hospital. Amazingly, they have managed to maintain electronic communications and report that all buildings are intact and all staff are safe (but ALL of the physicians and nurses are Haitian so of course most have relatives in Port-au-Prince ... their condition is mostly unknown).The reports from H.A.S. tell of a massive effort to deliver care to the injured who are being brought from the capital and districts nearby. This is stretching H.A.S's resources to a degree not previously experienced.

We invite you to go to our website to learn more about this. And as you will find out, the most urgent need is funding -- to pay for medical supplies which are being consumed very rapidly, to pay for a surge in required diesel & electric power and water, and to pay staff who are working many hours of additional time. So many people in our safe, affluent northern homes say "what can I do?". We ask that you click on and follow the easy links to make a donation. (For our Canadian readers, it's tax-receiptable!)

mesi anpil ["thank you very much" --- the working language at the hospital is Haitian creole]"

Nancy has two foster children through PLAN CANADA, (but not in Haiti) and of course this organization is already on the ground in Haiti. They are asking people to please make a donation right now to help the children and families in Haiti, and to make your donation go twice as far. Through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Canadian government will match all contributions made between January 12 and February 12, 2010.

If we all give a little, we'll all give a lot.

$20 provides a hygiene kit to help people clean off days of grime, cleanse wounds and help prevent infection

$100 provides kitchen sets for four families who have lost everything, so they can eat today and in the future

$500 provides 20 first aid kits to provide urgent medical care to injured children and families

$1000 provides 33 shelter tool kits, desperately needed for children and families whose homes have been destroyed

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Summer Church, in Winter White

Norway Point, along the southern shore of Lake of Bays, takes its name from the Norway Pines that used to grace it. The community that developed there got its beginning with several ministers who located summer homes along stretch of the lake, at one point earning it the nickname "Holy Row."

Near the Government wharf, built to take the big lake steamers, at nearby Glenmount, a church was constructed to accommodate summer worshippers. (that would be worshippers here in the summer, not those worshipping summer... a fine distinction, but perhaps important)

The original church was built in 1908, and although it was not engineered for Muskoka winters, it stood against the worst of winters until 1943, when it collapsed under a particularly heavy fall of snow.

It was reconstructed in 1944, designed by architect L. Somerville and under the carpentry skills of Lewellyn Robertson. The interior was left in its natural state, showing the beauty of the pine rafters and timbers and remains in its original design today. A large cathedral window allows the worshippers to look beyond the green woods and into the blue sky. The pulpit had been saved from the cave-in and also salvaged were the oak chancel chairs. Much to the congregation's glee, the old hard backed chairs of the first church were replaced with the lovely oak pews that remain in place today. The original Bell was also salvaged, and mounted on a memorial cairn in 1969.

The church has been and still remains the focus of the community of Norway Point -- no longer just in summer -- and recently was the proud recipient of a Built Heritage award from the Lake of Bays Heritage Foundation.

Gloria Woodside sent us this beautiful 'Christmas card-worthy' photo she took of this charming slice of Lake of Bays history. A drive around the Lake of Bays will take a day-tripped to several exquisite small churches like this, that remind us not only of time past, but can with their beauty replenish that sense of worship and awe in all of us.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wolves at the Door, or at least, down at the Rink

Over the Christmas holidays, we heard the wolf pack howling up on the Lookout hill. Katie, 11, who was with me at the time, has a book about wolves. She asked me if that was the song they sung before hunting. I'm not that good at translating wolf lyrics. Maybe. But when the biggest, deepest howl replied to them from farther to the north, we had to wonder if it was the call to the dinner table, instead. It's a fact of life: timber wolves eat deer. So it is not unusual to find 'kill sites' where the wolf pack has succeeded in securing take-away food.

Last Wednesday, David took himself off to shovel the rink. He returned to report that there were deer tracks across the rink. And wolf tracks. And, no, they weren't playing Pond Hockey. I took the camera down to get some shots of the tracks. It is always interesting in the winter to see who your neighbours are.

There were wolf tracks by the rink, indeed. They look a lot like a big dog, except for being a little more triangular in shape. There were also deer tracks, the sharply pointed toes pointing in the direction of travel. Interestingly, when the big deer start to move at speed, their 'ankles' drop down as they run, planting their "dew claws" (not the right term, but you can see them, at the back of the deer's ankle. In horses, they would be called an 'ergot', there would only be one, and if it ever hit the ground you would be calling the vet.)

This leaves a very different track, as the toes spread wide and the claws leave a double print behind, and we often get asked what made it. This particular track, if you were wondering, is headed to the right. Fast.

So, logically, if you find tracks, you follow them. That was easy, becase the Ravens were calling, and that's always a tell-tale sign. Ravens leave their own distinct 'tracks' -- either their footprints, or -- as here -- the imprint of their wings.

There were fox tracks as well, criss-crossing the other tracks. Now when you put all those together: deer tracks, wolf tracks, fox tracks and ravens, you know where you are headed. Foxes and ravens depend a lot on the wolves to help pad out the menu. Last year, we were all excited when a family of rare-to-here Bald Eagles settled onto a wolf-kill in the other corner of the bay.

There were at least five sets of wolf tracks leading to the site, in the corner of the bay by the creek, just beyond the Cook-out beach. There was one set of deer tracks leading in. None leading out. And in the photo, one set of people tracks (those would be mine) coming away from the scene. I'm the one in the middle who who dragged my feet... There's two sets of wolf tracks to the right of mine, the deer track just to the left.

Now, some folks get upset to think that the wolves have killed one of the deer they may have seen on our lawns thsi year. We must remind again that this is the way it works, and that there are still too many deer in our woods for the forest to sustain. Twigs and buds have been eaten off the trees already, and it is just January. There will be deer who starve to death this winter, as deer do every winter -- it is one of the way's Nature (who is not always kind) balances numbers.

But for those who are on the verge of tears, let us point out that our single fawn and our twins that practically live in our pockets, our "personal deer", well they are all still here, fit and well. And somebody has to cheer for the wolves, whom we love to hear howling. People come from around the world for the chance to hear wolves howl in the wilderness in Algonquin Park in August. Wolves still howl on the hill. Deer still fill the woods. Ravens circle, and foxes leave their tracks single file, like a strand of pearls, in the snow. From Nature's point of view, all is well with the world.

And yesterday, Steve who is here with the Ancient Mariners Canoe Club, caught a glimpse of a hunt -- something that is very rare to see. In the other corner of the bay, way over beyond Blackberry cottage, he saw a deer running, with wolves in pursuit. So, a little conflicted, we wish the deer fleet of foot and full of luck, while at the same time we whisper to the wolves, 'good hunting.'