Black Flies!

They’re here! Black file season has officially begun for us. We spent Friday and Saturday at the Rideau Camp. Friday was cloudy, and not terribly warm. We kept busy all day, Attila finishing the camp fire pit, and me burning wood and broken bits of brush in the camp fire pit. We had our usual lunch, grilled cheese sandwiches over the embers of the camp fire. I managed to go for a walk with Attila around the periphery of the property, it is pretty hard going in some places, lots of rocks, fallen trees, and hills. The day was a long one, just couldn’t tear ourselves away, so many interesting things to do.

The black flies were noticeable, but not too bad, we had no trouble tolerating them.

Our camp fire pit, finished. This is best camp fire pit I have ever used or designed. In the picture at the bottom of the pit is the air trench, this trench allows air to be sucked up from below the level of the burning fire, oxygen! On either side of the burning wood are two large pieces of granite, between which the fire burns. The granite rocks circling the fire pit prevent logs from rolling out, and helps to channel the wind into the burning fire. The air trench faces in the direction of the dominant wind flow, so that the wind blows in through the trench, hits the taller rocks across from the trench and creates a draft parallel to the predominant wind. This fire pit is so effective that I have only needed to use one match, a sheet of newspaper, some dry kindling and some sticks to get it going. It burns the wood completely and keeps the burning wood well confined. When I want to cook I put the grill across the two large granite rocks inside the ring, and I am all set up. Over the course of the weekend I burned all the wood from two of the dead trees that Attila felled last weekend.
Camp fire pit
The trilliums are out in full bloom. We are careful not to tread on them as we hike through the bush, but sometimes it can’t be helped, there are just so many of them. We have a few of these Red Trilliums on the property, so pretty. The Trillium is Ontario’s official Provincial Flower (white Trillium).

Saturday I wanted to walk down to the waterfront to which we have deeded access. It was a bright sunny day, perfect for a little walk. We observed something on a beech tree that neither one of us had seen before, and we still haven’t identified what we were looking at.

We looked up into this 60 foot high beech tree on our walk to the waterfront yesterday. The objects attached to the branches of the tree look ominous, we don’t know what they are. If anyone can identify what they are I’d love to know. I couldn’t get a closer picture, with more detail, because they were so far up.
Nests in tree

The waterfront is not idyllic, and it is obvious that the ownership is shared by many. There are discarded tires lying under the water, old boards and lumber pushed into the bush along the driveway, and the dock is literally falling apart, I won’t venture out on it. The shoreline is mucky, with a sand bottom further out. It is shallow, so that one might launch a canoe or small boat, but nothing larger. The view is lovely. I think Attila and I will eventually put in a bit of time cleaning things up down there, bit by bit. It doesn’t look like anyone else really cares. Most of the properties sharing this access point are waterfront properties, so they don’t really use it.

Our waterfront. We have deeded access to this waterfront, which we share with many others. It is shallow, and quite mucky along the shore, but I think we would enjoy bringing a picnic down here during late summer, when the bugs have died down. I don’t see us boating, although we may eventually get a small aluminium or fibreglass boat for fishing. We both like to fish. I used to canoe, but the arthritis in my coccyx makes it difficult to find a comfortable sitting position in a canoe, and my wonky knees mean that kneeling on my knees isn’t much fun either. Paddle boats work for me, but are too bulky to move around on land to and from storage. Wading is a good option on a hot day!
Water access

Attila had a look at the neighbouring property, and he says the view from the hill is lovely, but I would have trouble getting up there with my knees being what they are. Perhaps when bug season is over I might give it a try, wearing my knee brace. I tended the camp fire, burning the last of the dead trees that Attila felled last weekend. I also sprayed the weeds on the core area of the driveway with the vinegar/epsom salt/dawn detergent mixture. It worked right away with some of the weeds, and not at all with others. This will be an ongoing project. I also planted many clover seeds around the open area where we park, hoping it will grow as ground cover.

The black flies became more numerous as the day went by. By the time we left at 7 p.m. they were swarming around our heads. May and June are usually months when biting bugs are at their worst in Ontario. We won’t be doing as much work at the Rideau Camp for a few months. There is lots to be done at home, and Iris is waiting for attention, to ready her for the camping season, which we hope will begin in July and extend into October.

We headed home tired and happy after our day in the bush.

On the drive home we observed another phenomena that neither of us had seen before. It was a short rainbow in the sky, just a short straight line of faint colours, high above and to the right of the setting sun. It wasn’t raining.

Today, Sunday, we stayed home. It was raining when we got up this morning, making a day out of doors less appealing, particularly when the temperature was only going to rise to 9C. So Attila spent his time organizing the garage so that he can get the lawn more out, it will soon be needed. I spent the day making croutons, cooking vegetables for my meals this week, and baking Blueberry Squares for Attila’s lunches.

A dreary looking day out there today, but our little world needed it. The grass got greener as the day wore on, and the gardens are looking happy.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 4:23 PM EDT Sunday 1 May 2016
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 3 km
Temperature: 8.5°C
Dewpoint: 7.4°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: ENE 11 km/h


“Peace is when time doesn’t matter as it passes by.”
Maria Schell

The Rideau Camp

Friday, April 8, 2016

Friday morning, after Attila had slept for a few hours, we packed the car to the ceiling with needful things, and headed out the Rideau Camp for our first visit as owners.

The day was chilly, well below freezing, and we drove through periods of driving snow to get there. Snow! Wouldn’t you know it! We would not be deterred.

To cope with the cold weather we both wore many layers of clothing, with hats, and scarves, and long johns, and gloves. The wind was brisk, there was quite a wind chill factor. The temperature never did rise above freezing, although the snow stopped shortly after we arrived at the Rideau Camp.

Attila went right to work digging the new fire pit. I went right to work with the garden fork to remove brambles from the perimeter of the area around the fire pit. After a few minutes of this vigorous work neither of us felt in the least bit cold. We worked diligently for around six hours, and accomplished much. There was one long break mid day when we stopped to eat our peanut butter and jam sandwiches. The sun eventually came out from behind the clouds, and we drove home into a glorious sunset.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Saturday first thing we were out there again. The day was sunny, and chilly, well below zero as it had been on Friday.

Attila spent the day working on the drainage system, as we are hoping to drain the swampy areas on the property to reduce the mosquito population. The small creeks on the property had been badly used. The main creek was full of garbage, there were many torn bags of garbage, that had been there for a very long time. There was even an old umbrella in there. Attila used the shovel to lift the garbage out of the creek and onto the bank, it was an all day job. My task for the day was to mind the camp fire, which I really enjoy. We are burning the dead wood closest to the fire pit first, and working our way out from there. There are a lot of dead fallen branches, which I broke into small pieces and burned in the fire pit.

This is the creek that runs through our property. This picture is taken from the driveway, showing the culvert that runs under the driveway, and the garbage that we found in the creek. What you see here is an old paint can, and above that a broken laundry basket containing a green garbage bag full of garbage. This was the tip of the iceberg when it came to garbage in the creek! Attila dug out bags of it. What possesses people to mar a beautiful landscape with garbage?

Saturday we stopped for a lovely lunch cooked over the embers in the fire pit. Attila found two large rocks to place on either side of the fire in the pit, and these rocks held the grate. Using a sandwich cooker, Attila slowly grilled cheese sandwiches. So wonderful! There is nothing like the taste of grilled cheese sandwiches cooked over an open fire.

When it was time to leave I fetched two large buckets of water from the swampy area near the entrance to the camp, and with this water I put out the fire completely, drowning the embers.

And again we drove home into a glorious sunset. I felt very tired after my second day working in the bush!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

That brings me to today. Again, bright and early, we were off to the Rideau Camp. I had second thoughts about the way we constructed the fire pit, I felt there wasn’t enough sand lining the pit. I discussed my concerns with Attila, and requested that he dig up some of the gravel pile that he found overgrown on our property, and transport it to the fire pit. So that is what he did. Attila removed the rock lining we had put into the pit on Friday, and shovelled in the gravel, it was about two inched deep. Then Attila lined the pit with rocks from the property. Finally, I added a bag of sand and worked it into all the spaces between the rocks, to give us a thick, non-combustable base for our fire pit.

The rest of the day I tended the fire, burning dead wood from the property, and Attila did various odd jobs. He brought several loads of gravel to fill in low areas around the picnic table; collected and bagged the garbage that he had thrown up on the bank to dry yesterday; cut wild grapes around the property, that were growing up into the trees, dragged brush from down the driveway to the fire pit area so that I could burn it, and did more work on the drainage system.

There were no grilled cheese sandwiches for us today though. I had carefully packed everything we needed, except the bread!

We left the Camp mid-afternoon, so that Attila could come home and get some sleep before he heads off to work tonight.

We have left our mark on the Rideau Camp. The garbage cleanup, the removal of dead wood and brambles, the lovely fire pit, the grilled cheese sandwich feast, it was a good inauguration.

We are thrilled that it is an easy day trip to visit the Rideau Camp. It takes about an hour and fifteen minutes from driveway to driveway, and the scenery along the way is very pleasant.

One of the interesting things about an open campfire is how you smell after spending time around one. People don’t smell very nice when they have been spending a lot of time around a campfire. We showered each day when we arrived home, but since our clothing reeked, we wore the same layers all weekend, and when we got home today we began to do loads of laundry. This includes washing my parka, which I had to wear all weekend because it was so darned cold out there! Hopefully next weekend will be milder, so that I can wear a lighter jacket while tending the fire, which will be easier to launder than a parka.

We are totally in love with the Rideau Camp!

Worldly Distractions


Cloudy. Periods of snow mixed with ice pellets beginning early this evening then changing to rain overnight. Risk of freezing rain after midnight. Snow and ice pellet amount 2 to 4 cm. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h this evening. Temperature rising to plus 4 by morning.

Date: 5:00 PM EDT Sunday 10 April 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -0.1°C
Dewpoint: -8.1°C
Humidity: 55%
Wind: S 17 km/h
Wind Chill: -5


“By health I mean the power to live a full, adult, living, breathing life in close contact with… the earth and the wonders thereof – the sea – the sun.”
Katherine Mansfield
1888 – 1923

The sea has not been a part of my life, but the sun, inland lakes, precambrian rocks, pine trees, maples trees, oak trees…