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.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Last One In...

The mercury climbed to 31 degrees today. There wasn't a cloud to be seen.

Guests headed for the lake. As Ben told me, "we swim four times a day." (in between making great horror movies starring The Chickens! These kids are being very creative, and the movie is -- pardon the pun -- a scream.) There's plenty of places to find shade along the shoreline, but shade wasn't on the agenda for the kids crowded onto the water trampoline and raft.

After all, where better to be on a hot end-of-August day than in Lake of Bays!

Corrie, Henry and Tom, taking a slightly more sedate dip would most certainly concur.

Boats headed out from shore as well --the paddle boat was busy. So was Tom's sailboat. Which is not to say that the Muskoka chairs didn't get a workout as well!

By late afternoon, however, the boats were back at the docks, the kids were still in the lake, the bbq's were firing up, the deer had come in to grab some windfall apples . The day was winding down.

But last time I looked, the kids were still in the lake...

Loon Below, Planes Above

Yesterday morning the bay rang with the calls of the mother loon.

She was out with her chick, fishing along the corner of the bay. The chick can dive now, and is becoming larger every day, but still has her fluffy gray "I'm a baby loon" plumage.

Brian was heading out with his Piper Cub float plane, taking advantage of the flat calm water as much as of the fact that not too many folks were up and about yet. Working here it can be tricky to find time for ourselves during July and August. That's okay... the trade off of having our Bondi Family friends here with us is important too!
He carefully skirted the loons. Momma gave him one long loon-look, and then carried on, quite unperturbed by the plane passing by.
Pam was out, with coffee on the dock, and quickly grabbed her camera. It's better than mine, and I'm sure she got better photos of both loons and plane taking off! She's promised to send them on to me, so I will post them when they arrive.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Go Fly a Kite

Juergen pointed out to Brian that when guests tell him to go fly a kite, they are not necessarily meant to be taken literally...

But we have a long standing tradition of flying kites on the lawn around the end of August. One of my favourites was a hugely long red 'dragon' kite we had for years. This week, Brian opted for the traditional kite. Once he had it up there in the jet stream, (well, it looked almost high enough to be there!) it didn't take a lot of energy to keep it flying. He and Corrie settled in to enjoy watching it fly against the beautiful blue sky and fluffy white clouds.
The book Corrie set aside for the occasion? Fittingly enough, she's reading The Kite Runner.

David unfolded a different style, which required a little more interaction to keep flying. There was a lot of preparation, and then concentration to keep it airborne. This style really wants a little more wind -- and a little more consistent wind -- and it can't be flown as high so it is subject to interestingly changing air flow.
Brian pointed out that, with both kites up there, you could see the difference in the wind. When the high kite was flying strongly, the wind often dropped right away at ground level, leaving David working very hard to keep his aloft.
Victoria and Matthew came out to join them with kites of their own at Longside cottage, and the sky was very colourful!

Who has seen the Wind?

It's a bit of a family joke that raising the sails on their boat causes the wind to immediately drop...

And it's also a bit of a family tradition for Tom to find himself overturned, standing on the keel to bring the sailboat back onto even keel...

So it was lovely to see Blair and Tom out there with "Windbreaker" (yes, she really does have that name stencilled on the stern), sails spread.
A little disconcerting that Tom was already testing the temperature of the water, just in case... but nonetheless lovely for all that.
It turned out to be a great day for sailing. Our bay can be tricky for windpower -- the shape of the bay, and the points can cause the wind to shift quickly, but once past the points it's plain sailing with steadier wind.

North by Northwest

Once upon a time, treasure hunters used maps. Usually these were well folded, drawn by hand, and included clues like "look for the tree that looks like a hand" or "take forty giant steps from the flat rock in the middle of the brook".
Now treasure hunters have a little gnarlyfish unit, a GPS of some description, clutched firmly in their steely grip, and the map is a set of co-ordinates. With those magic numbers and the GPS, they can track their treasure hoards across the globe.
It's called geocaching, and it's got a huge following.
One of our guests asked us if there were any geocaches nearby, and to be honest, we didn't know. So David and I surfed out on the net, took GPS (well, he took GPS, I'm not allowed to have technology that sophisticated, they're all quite concerned about the fact that I can't seem to figure out a cell phone's applications yet) and we headed out to find our very first geocache.
It has in fact been lurking there since Sept. 19, 2008. Who knew?
Well, the fine folks who put it there knew. And all the folks that have found it, and recorded their names in the log since, knew. And know, we know.
If you have a GPS, you too can know. It's at N 45° 17.942 W 079° 00.793
Hidden by "Team Royal" it is titled "Remember".
Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure. A geocacher can place a geocache in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache's existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS device can then try to locate the geocache. The treasure will be hidden in something watertight -- in this case a small plastic case, but it could be a bucket with a lid, or a very small case. It can be really tricky to find, or fairly easy. Inside will be some little items that are 'traded' by those who find it. If you take something out, you are expected to put something in. We added a small green plastic lizard toy.
You are also expected to sign the log book inside, and there is a site on-line where you can log in that you have found the cache as well.
If you are searching in our area, you'll find that there are a lot of these treasures stashed near Bondi, Dwight, and Oxtongue Lake. You could easily make a weekend vacation just tramping about in search of them.
It's easy to see how folks get the geocaching "bug" -- we'll be heading out looking for another all too soon! After all, any excuse to get into the Great Outdoors is just great with us! In fact, we'll probably be figuring out how to 'stash a cache' or two of our own very soon!

BBQ Barge Returns, Pirate Flag Flying!

Thursday's marathon swim began in intermittent drizzle. The lake was warmer than the air. But nothing dampened down the spirit of the swimmers on the dock.
All of them, including young Matthew (11) and Aaron (10) who were our youngest this week, swam out to touch the big gray rock at the point before turning for home.

The sun soon broke through, surrounding Andrea with sparkles.
And the morning was brightened farther by the arrival of the BBQ Barge, pirate flag flying and stuffed parrot "Rib-eye" proudly swinging from the mast. Napster even joined the crew, albeit for a brief cruise. He's not the salty sea-dog you might expect...
Hulene considered briefly boarding the barge, before continuing the swim -- which she did TWICE (2 km!).
Aaron had a huge cheering squad, both alongside in his Grandpa's boat, and back on the dock.

Mike and Dave served up waffles with whipped cream for the swimmers -- very popular with Brian and Tom!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Solar Shelter

We went for a hike into the back fields today. We were looking for all sorts of things, and we found them. Escorted by Achmed, much to the delight of his companions, we found all sorts of 'cool stuff.'

Woodpecker trees, bear claw marks, wolf scat. Berries -- despite the lateness of the season, we were lucky enough to find enough ripe raspberries, blueberries and blackberris for Danzi, Jordi and Gina to all have a taste. We munched on wild apples, and checked out where the bear had been breaking branches to reach them. We found lichens, mushrooms, an owl feather, milkweed seeds drifting on the breeze, pitcher plants where we went 'walking on water' into the black spruce bog, and more.

But it was at the solar panels that we found the most activity, by far. The array is covered with monarch butterfly chrysalis'. The girls must have found at least 50, either newly hatched, about to hatch, or very recent, judging from their colours. The butterflies have taken to the array in a big way!

It's shaded, and protected from wind and rain, convenient to an entire field of milkweed. Evidently it got a 'two wings up' from the monarchs. One was sitting beneath the array, on a bit of cement debris, quietly working at unfolding her wings.

While we found most of the chrysalis clustered near the support posts, The girls even found an enterprising caterpillar who had figured out how to climb up the sloping panel.

On the other side of this butterfly-to-be, silent in the sunshine, the solar panels were collecting sun, making electricity and sending it to the grid. That's pretty amazing. We built them to try to help the planet. We're thrilled more than we can say that they seem to be helping the monarch butterflies as well!

The field was alive with butterflies -- a wonderful sight, since last summer it was cooler and not such a great year for them.
Returning to Bondi, we found the doe at the crabapple tree, harvesting the windfalls. Danzi shared an apple with her. Which was a perfect to our Walk on the Wild Side!

But there's no Snow in B.C. yet...

Mike's summer with us is coming to an end. Thursday (and yes, there will be two minutes of silence after the Marathon Swim in his honour) he's heading home, getting ready for his next adventure.

Although nothing, really, can compare with his adventures with the Bondi Maintenance Dept. After all, where else you can find David, having fallen into the works of the golfcart, requiring rescue? It was an exciting few moments, when the seed tipped, and so did Dave.

Or get his S1 (Squeegee One) license? Or build a killer bonfire? Or have his own personal chicken...

He's got his sights set on a winter position at Grouse Mountain, in B.C. Not that there's any snow there yet. Just lots of forest fire smoke... but there's training courses to take, and other details that are going to take up some
We have to confess that it has been a joy having Mike here. He's been a wonderful worker, and a better friend. It will be quieter without him...
So we're hoping you'll all join us in encouraging him to return next summer.
Thanks Mike.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monarchs and Princesses

What a crown for a princess to wear! This monarch decided that the purple hair clip on Nora's head was a flower. Not surprising, really -- butterflies see in the ultraviolet range, and this clip would have 'popped' as brightly as if it was under black lights.
Leslie and James sent us these photographs they took of our Bondi butterflies while they were here for two weeks this summer. Nora and Vivian got to watch the whole process, from "this is a caterpillar" to "how wonderful, this lovely butterfly thinks you are a flower." How cool is that?

While it really starts with the arrival of the butterfly to lay an egg on the milkweed, we're going to take up the tale here, with a caterpillar hatching out on a milkweed. Leave milkweed in your gardens. It's the only plant these monarch caterpillars eat. They will munch the leaves completely off, leaving only a milkweed 'stick' behind. That takes about 14 days, and they shed their skins 5 times along the way.
Then they will curl themselves into a J-shape, and transform into the jade and golden jewel chrysalis that is so beautiful. They will stay in these for 9 to 14 days.
The colour comes from within, so as the butterfly matures, the chrysalis darkens, showing the black and orange of the butterfly within.
This is a wonderful photo showing the chrysalis just before the butterfly emerges, her orange and black wings clearly visible within.
There's no magic signal to watch for when the butterfly is ready to emerge. the chrysalis simply splits, and the butterfly crawls out, her wings all tiny, crumpled and soft.
She will cling to the chrysalis, or close to it, for at least an hour as the hemolymph (butterfly blood) pumps out into the wings, opening them up. She'll spread those wings, and practice opening and closing them until they have dried and hardened enough to support her tiny weight.
Then, the butterfly will take to the sky, drifting and fluttering on the air, searching out flowers for their sweet nectar. In six to ten days, she will seek a mate, and lay more eggs, and start the cycle all over again.
And, quite possibly, along the way, seeking flowers, she will find a 'blossom' of a different kind, and will bless one of us with her gentle, lovely presence.
Some folks ask, "how does the butterfly 'know' how to do this?" Some reply, "it's instinct." But where does this instinct come from? This is truly a miracle, and one we can watch unfold right before our eyes.
How very special that she chose Nora!
Thanks so much for sharing these photos with us!

Summer on the Menu

This came to us from Sheila, who stays with us in July, and creates the most extraordinary meals at the cottage. She promised to send me some recipes, but her busy life caught up to her. Today's her birthday, so we're posting this recipe today, so we can wish her Many Happy Returns!

The garden is full of sweet red tomatoes right now. All the produce is so fresh and delicious, it's almost a sin to cook it... We also have basil, and garlic... not to mention potatoes, corn, carrots so sweet they literally melt in the mouth... This time of year, we rarely need to see the inside of a grocery store!

"I almost forgot about this dish I make in the summer that is so fast and delicious you are going to die!
Take a couple of ripe tomatoes, de-seed them and dice them into 1/2" chunks - put them in a bowl. Press 2 garlic cloves into the bowl. Add coarse salt and freshly ground pepper and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Mix it all up and let sit.
Cook some whole wheat fusilli.
When the fusilii is cooked and drained, add slices of fresh bocconcini cheese (fiesta farms has a Santa Lucia brand that is one large ball and exactly like what I had in Rome). Mix til the cheese melts a little.
Add the tomato mixture and toss again.
Add snipped basil leaves, toss one more time and eat, eat, eat. Yummy! so delicious and fresh there is no need for parmigiano."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Kids are Alright

Last spring, we had a plethora of fawns on the property. We kept finding the little creatures hiding in Carol's gardens... On one memorable occasion, she pulled up to one of the gardens in her golfcart with all her gardening tools in tow, hopped out, pulled on her gloves, turned to the garden and found herself standing over twin fawns. Curled nose to tail in the spring garden, hiding behind a lily, they had been stashed there for safekeeping by their mom.

Carol climbed back in the golfcart and carried on elsewhere. After all, you can't disturb the babies when they're napping...

Those twins stayed on the property all year. They would come to the stable almost every day to share a snack with the chickens. They would even come inside the stable to raid the chicken coop feeders...

This spring, we had another fawn left in our care, curled up all safe and invisible in the iris.

Look how the kids have grown! Wandering on the lawn today as part of our welcoming committee for the newly arriving guests we had the whole bunch of them: Mom, with this year's tiny fawn now growing big and fast and strong but still adorable in her spotted coat, and her yearling siblings. Her big brother is very proud of his new antlers, still in velvet of course, but quite acceptable for a yearling buck.

The apples are ripening now, so the deer are coming close to glean the windfalls. Which would be fine, if they didn't try to break down Carol's garden fences in order to get to the fruit. It is an uneasy truce.

Brand New

Our newest monarch came out to greet the day this morning. Because it was raining where she had her chrysalis, we gently moved her a foot or so so she was under the shelter of the portico. It seemed a friendlier place to work on unfolding and practicing with the wings.

She was certainly taking everything in -- I love the raindrops on her delicate antenna in these pictures!

Later this month, the monarchs will start their southern migration. If you live in the neighbourhood of Point Pelee Park, you should circle the calendar, because the monarch migration piles up at the Tip of the Park, and you can see really really large concentrations of these butterflies as they prepare for the trip south.

It's a 3000 km. trip, so they need favourable conditions -- warm weather and a nicely directed breeze. They mainly glide, which makes sense because fluttering their wings all that way would burn through massive quantities of energy.

One of Nature's true miracles, we're just delighted that some of them begin their journey here with us, and we look forward to their return every year.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Time Machine Under the Dock

Nora and Vivian spent their last evening at Bondi fishing from the Main Dock. The girls were pulling in plenty of small fish (If you lie on the dock and lock down beneath it, you can see all these 'small fry' swishing about).

Their Dad was going back and forth between the two girls, taking the fish gently off the hooks and live-releasing them to be caught again.

Until Viv, who's only 3, caught a fish she couldn't pull up on her own.

Jamie went to assist, only to discover that not only had Vivian caught a fish, a snapping turtle had latched onto the same fish, and she had a veritable Time Machine dangling heavily from her line.
Today’s snapping turtles have hardly changed from 215 million years ago when Proganochelys, the most primitive turtle known, lived. Proganochelys had already most features of today’s turtles, although it was unable to pull its head and legs into its shell. (come to that, neither can our modern snapping turtle) In comparison the age of the dinosaurs was approximately 150 million years ago, 100 million years more recent than the first turtle. Turtles were one of the few reptile groups, which survived the impact of a six mile wide meteorite on earth and the following nuclear winter about 65 million years ago, which is known as the K-T boundary.

While the ancestor turtles were tinkering with designs of shell and size of turtle, the design of the snapping turtle as we know it today dates hasn't changed for 40 million years. These are creatures who are entitled to regard the brontosaur and mastodon as brief zoological fads. Humans have been around about 3.5 million years. Snappers are still trying to figure out "us newcomers."

When you look at one, you are getting a glimpse back into an extremely distant past. I did a post about them last summer, when David found a young snapper across the road in need of rescue.

You have to respect these turtles -- with their heavy, pointed beaks capable of snapping off a small branch and their five massive claws on each foot, they are formidable swimmers and hunters. Luckily they are non-aggressive towards people, unless they are cornered on land or you are pestering them. In the water, around swimmers, they will just slip away. Best to just let them be. The observers thought this was a HUGE turtle... but in fact snapping turtles can weight up to 40 pounds (18 kg) and be about 14" (36 cm) long in their rough carapace. This is a younger, medium sized but still big snapping turtle.
While they do have to surface to breathe, they can rest underwater for up to four HOURS... try holding your breath, and you'll be impressed right away by this ability. They can live well over 75 years, with some reports of individuals who are well over 100. You count the rings in the shell, rather like counting tree rings, to determine age, since they continue to grow throughout their lifetime. Since they are so long lived, they don't begin to breed until they are about 19 years old. And here's a funky fact: the female can hold the sperm in her body for several seasons, so if she doesn't find a mate the following year (or years) she can still produce fertile eggs.
The greatest threat to this species is now the car -- they get hit when they come out to the edge of the roads in spring to lay their eggs. And since it is the females that are out there, getting struck by cars, this is a big concern for the population. So if you spot a turtle on the road, slow down, go around them. It would be a shame if a species whose ancestors survived the meteor strike that wiped out the dinosaurs were to succumb under the wheels of a Smartcar...
Slow down... give turtles a brake!
If you want to learn more about these amazing reptiles, the best website we've found is the Tortoise Trust.
The female lays up to 24 eggs -- and occasionally as many as 50! in the spring, and then goes away and leaves the hidden nest and the newly hatched turtles, to fend for themselves when they hatch in 80 to 90 days' time, usually in September and October. The sex of the turtle is determined by the temperature in the nest. Below a certain temperature, the turtles will be males. Above it, females. Easy to remember, because the dudes are cool and the chicks are hot...

The dock snapper ate Vivian's fish. He then hung about under the dock and grabbed another small fish as Jamie was releasing it. Jamie dropped in a worm, and snap, that too was history.
This morning, the turtle was still there, ready for the morning fishermen to appear. He (or she? hard to tell) ate a fish right off the line that Aaron had in the water. It was all reminiscent of the Old Man and the Sea.

The big excitement then became not so much the fishing, but the turtle spotting. Aaran and Stevie got right down to check under the dock, and when they spotted the snapper, they found themselves joined by a whole crew of keen turtle watchers. John, who did catch a good sized small-mouth bass off the dock yesterday (and let it go) decided that he'd best check his tackle, because with the turtle in direct competition, the open waters of the bay began to look a lot more hopeful for serious fishing -- and keeping.

By the way, these photos were taken with my camera, at the end of the dock, with both the fish and the turtle about 1.2 meters down. Which rather nicely demonstrates how clear the lake is, when the view is not being blocked by a snapping turtle...