Countdown to Snowflea Telefest 2015! February 20-22

Our Winter of Contentment = A Snow Day, Everyday! ūüôā

Hello Lodge-Blog!

It’s been SO long since I’ve stopped by to have a cup of tea with you, I was very happy to see you still sitting here, patiently waiting for a¬†Bellevue¬†update. What a loyal little blog you are!

It’s been a¬†beautiful¬†winter for back-country skiing – cold bluebird days, with powder conditions on top of a huge base, and every few days a few freshies to clean the slopes. Global warming seems to mean “colding” in this region¬†– or perhaps it’s just that La Ni√Īa has switched places with her little brother for a seasonal¬†holiday.¬†Such a throwback to¬†the “old” winters¬†I keep being surprised by the fact that my knees have not reset themselves¬†to a more bucolic time! However I am extremely lucky that once the adrenalin pumps through those cranky¬†joints¬†I forget I even have knees until much later in the day, when the skis are off, and more mundane tasks remind me how annoying walking can be.

So in this way, December and January just flew by, and now it’s Telefest month!

SnowFlea Poster 2015

 

 

This year will be our 19th Annual Snowflea Telefest, and like this past                  month, nineteen years have streamed by in a blurr. Back in  1996 we planned one little weekend of fun to share an activity we love, and empower people to travel winter landscapes under their own bipedal power    and gain confidence in backwoods adventure on their own.

Hurtling ourselves through the spaces between trees, experiencing pure gravity¬†on skis, riding¬†pillowed slopes of snow, aware of being many feet above the actual ¬† ¬†ground¬†was just a side benefit, but one that became the raison¬†d’√©tre rather immediately! ….well, who could resist, considering adrenalin and laughter go hand in hand!

So many great times with¬†friends over these years, and opportunities to share joyful times. I don’t think anyone in the¬†tele-tribe¬†will stop until we have to. Perhaps while we still have questing natures, we can work on building a senior ski binding that does the uphill step to climb automatically!

It is so much easier to learn the sport and techniques of tele-skiing now, what with the awesome equipment out there, changing with the times and responsive to different conditions. Heck, we started with wood cross-country skis! That was hard. Then cambered metal edges, super long; Oh boy, what a flail-fest! Thankfully Chris Stoppel took pity on us and brought us some old Hexel downhills. ¬†Remember, this was before the days of short fat powder skis, even at resorts. What took us three or more years to learn, an athletic person with good gear can now conquer in a day. It has been amazing to see so many younger folks¬†keen to strap on a new binding, even snowboards …. and EARN THEIR TURNS!

So here it comes, our annual weekend that marks the¬†full circle of our passion for so many things that go hand in hand to make us happy. Music is a big part of that too – like skiing, another language to enjoy life with! This year we welcome Dana Whittle as our featured performer. Dana is a whirlwind of song and musicianship –¬†we are very¬†excited to welcome her energy and enthusiasm to Snowflea! Please drop by her band site to read about her many accolades and musicalwork – http://www.dentdelion.net/dentdelion-english/dana-english/

…and if you are planning on joining us ~ drop us a knee – oops I mean a line !! See you on a snow-day!
bellevuevalleylodge@gmail.com

Countdown, 12 days ’til Christmas!

Suvi leapsChristmas is all year ’round here – Enn and I always know to make a split decision for acquisition when we see something we want, and usually the item is not only wanted, but necessary! This certain mutual gift¬†is no exception.

Meet Suvi, our newest family member! She is a‚Ķ well, we are not sure what she will turn out to be, but suffice to say she is a registered Northern Dog. Smart, cheerful, and oodles of fun. Born in August, along the James Bay Coast, a place where every season except winter is a short and sweet time, we gave her an Estonian name that means “Summer” ¬†~ because¬†sometimes in this winter landscape we need a reminder that the light will return, and the fair breezes will come back.

Winter solstice is upon us next weekend. We will light a bonfire, play in the snow,¬†and ring in the return of the light with friends, food and music. This is the night we can write out¬†our¬†year¬†–¬†or perhaps a lifetime? of¬†regret, sorrow and anger into¬†simple¬†words¬† – our “bummers” – onto a bit of birchbark and send those words into the stars as fiery embers;¬†it reminds us to make room¬†in our hearts to place¬†grateful thoughts for all the things we have that enrich our lives, and for the paths we choose to take.

Sometimes making a split second decision to adopt a puppy works that way too!

Happy Solstice to everyone out there in the starry world, and i hope you find your puppy of joy to enrich your lives this winter! Or if you like, come share ours … she certainly has a lot of capacity for enjoying humans, and we also have a lot of open nights still available in our chalet, and in the B&B, for this winter season of snow-playing. With the new management at Searchmont Resort and Stokely, as well as a very auspicious jet stream pattern to bring us oodles of snow, looks like it will be a wonderful start to 2015!

Annual Fall “Lopp-It-Good” – happening November 8th 2014

Hi folks,

A lovely little nip is in the air today – you can smell snowflakes in the stratosphere. Yes, you can! ūüėČ

All the maple and poplar leaves have been set free, swirling in huge drifts over the yard. Raking has been a chore with these huge northeasterly blows happening all week. Only the rubrous oak and citrine tamarack are stubbornly holding on to perk up the hillside views.

Enn is walking the mountain this weekend, making note of large windfalls and areas that need some saw work to keep the turns safe this winter.

mike marie conner loppet

We’ve planned¬†the big trail clearing on¬†November 8th and 9th ‚Ķ if you can join us, we would love to have you!

And ……..Snowflea Telefest is planned for February 20th Р22nd 2015.

This will be our 19th Annual!¬†I hate to admit how many more years we have been tromping these woods, clearing deadfall and limbs to make this incredible¬†trail network¬†for backwoods skiing one of a kind. ¬†Lopp it Good weekend asks for your participation in exchange for room and board ‚Ķ it’s a great way to get a deer’s eye view of our ski area, and become a part of the tribe, whether you love to make Telemark¬†turns or prefer to snowshoe! Give us a call or send us an email for more information, or to reserve a bed – hope to see you soon.

Fall is Featured!

Fall maplesGosh, that summer just flew past Рeven though it was a difficult one to enjoy.
Global warning has made an impact on us here in the Great Lakes region, it was cool and wet, and not a warm summer season. However we did have enough rain for the gardens, and the ground water levels are high. And there is no denying that the higher water levels in Superior have made The Big Lake happier Рno long walks necessary to get to a swim in the shallows of the sandy bays, and lots of great wave viewing opportunities from the rocky cliffs! No, it was the amount of biting insects that made this summer rather a hellish one.
We often host guests who cannot believe that we have so few people per square mile Рand that prices for cottage land are relatively low. Those are the poor misguided souls who have never had to run screaming for their lives Рfrom hordes of mosquitos! June and July are screen-porch months Рand smoky fires during the day. The happiest way to enjoy a day out-of-doors in June is from the surface of a lake! Thank goodness for kayaks and canoes Рoffshore travel that keeps you out of the bug-lands.
…I have been thinking a lot this year about the effort it takes to live north of the 49th parallel¬†– it can seem at times¬†that the amount of effort, money and planning¬†is not commiserate with the rewards of¬†where we live. As I¬†get older and become¬†more discerning about what I¬†put my¬†energy towards, it becomes obvious that at least half of our resources and time goes towards staying alive in this aggressive climate! That extends not only to gathering fuel and food, but also to creating activities and arts in an underpopulated and remote region of the country, necessary to build and maintain culture and community – things that people in a more urban environment take for granted.
Missing out on the simple rewards of a good summer growing season, and weather suitable for basking in the sun can really make you feel overextended and bitter in the face of all that effort.
Viewing the sudden blaze of autumn somehow helps us reflect on our thoughts and centre our mood – akin to hearing a church organ swell with a huge note of praise, or being given a gift of worth no money could buy ‚Ķ. our spiritual reward for the “sow, toil and reap” ¬†– ¬†of collecting¬†food, heat and habits to get us through those cold¬†dark months. This land really comes into its own celebration in September and October – harvest season is always spectacular, with the maple forest ablaze in colour, and the clear clean air allowing for views that sparkle! Visiting¬†a new farmers’ market venture, or taking part in organising a community festival makes you realise that the rewards are sometimes gained through the process, not the outcome.
So after a few trying months, we greet the blessing of Indian¬†summer like an old friend – we have given up on tanning, and gardening, I hear¬†Doris Day¬†singing “what will be, will be”! – and we can open our hearts to the bittersweet few weeks of fall. One week of warmth and t-shirt weather in this season is worth two months of fickle summer – our northern afternoons¬†are warm with possibilities, thick with golden light and rich in sensations. Crisp apples and carrots, the last monarchs and sandhills heading south, within the startling contrasts of the colour wheel. Nordic blue of sky and water, set against mustard yellow fields and vermillion woodlands becomes¬†a therapy session for your soul. Driving into the Sault from Goulais River is a feast for the eyes, soothing and uplifting, a euphoric better than any mood enhancing drug. You forget all about the trials and tribulations of the summer season, and swear to one and all that you live in a paradise and feel sorry for anyone unable to share in this glory – and even wax poetic about the best yet to come, yes, SNOW! ūüėČ
Cleaning the skis and planning some gatherings to enjoy your friends, old and new, helps out too!

HAPPY CANADA DAY!

July 1st 2014 is almost upon us ‚Ķ and it ¬†is hard to believe we are already past our longest day of the year.¬†We marked the solstice¬†this month¬†(‚Ķ.and our thirtieth anniversary of putting up with each other!) ¬†– with a wonderful house concert by Liam Titcomb, who most definately keeps me believing in the value of live performance! Such expertise and spirit, I’m hard pressed to think of anyone who¬†can measure up to Liams’ level, at any age. Listening to his performance, delivered so effortlessly and yet with such intricate guitar work and writing abilities,¬†it is shocking to think he is not yet thirty years old, and has that depth of resource within. I have always felt guilty for not enjoying those shows “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice” ‚Ķ people tell me they get so much pleasure from them – but having been in the music business for so many years it is just so painful to see how “dumbed down” a performance or singer/musician’s message has to be to appeal to the mass population. I find most of those¬†performances so boring and predictable, it is actually painful for me to see the accolades that are heaped on the artists. Music is one of the easiest arts to force a square peg to go in a round hole. Once that happens you aren’t hearing the performers’ voice anymore – just the “star-maker machinery” as Joni Mitchell called it.¬†

The summer so far has not been kind – we have a surfeit of mosquitos and yet a lack of water. Keeping the garden happy has been a struggle! It is rather¬†discouraging to invest so much time energy and sweat to grow a great crop of lettuces and greens – and then be unable to harvest any for dinner because of attacking hordes of mosquitos! They are lasting so long this year ‚Ķ taking the place of the usual swarms of blackflies.¬†Enn¬†says when he was a child and returned home after a buggy play day, his mom called the blackfly bites his “northern Ontario necklace”! ..and yet I don’t think I have seen one blackfly here yet this year.

But these MOSQUITOS!! We have been so clothed!¬†– this morning is supposed to be the hottest day of the summer so far, up to 30 degrees – yet at six thirty this morning when I rose to water the garden, I dressed in wool socks, undershirt, overshirt, long pants which I tucked into the socks, put on a hat, dove into my bug shirt, zipped the face screen up, nitrile gloves, tucked the sleeves of said¬†bug shirt, ‚Ķthen sprayed¬†citronella, and¬†eau de DEET over all this concoction. Then I opened the door and stepped out into this beautiful day. You think the sight would just frighten them away! Here we are, pasty white and suffering scurvy from a lack of sunlight and fresh food! At the height of summer! ¬†ūüėČ

I have to admit I have refused a few bookings here at the lodge, knowing that some people would not be able to enjoy their holiday with us at present. It’s a matter of assessing if people really know what you are warning them about when you say the bugs are horrendous ‚Ķ let’s hope the heat today will take them out, and we can cautiously get on with the short and tank top season,¬†even if it only lasts a few days I will welcome it!

No¬† one seems to be talking about west nile virus this year – was all that discussion just a flash in the pan? I’m sure most of us living in theses muskeg and cedar swamplands of Ontario have been exposed to it by now. And I don’t want to¬†appear alarmist – but there is a definate¬†lack of warblers, forest birds and bats this year. And that is who eats most of these mosquitos. Most summer mornings at 5 am I am awoken by the beautiful dawn chorus – usually starting with wood thrush, oven birds, vireos, then the robins, warblers and other less solitary birds join in‚Ķ.this past week the whine of mosquitos at the windows is the prevalent song. Bats have suffered in this region from White Nose Syndrome ‚Ķ a fungus that infects them in their winter hibernaculae ‚Ķ and a bat will eat 4000 – 8000¬†mosquitos in one night. That is an amazing amount! I still have one old friend of a bat spending the days in the cedar shakes above the door, but other resting sites don’t seem to have been used yet this summer. If those bats were alive, they would be here, bats return to the same areas every year just as birds do.¬†

Mornings that I have this particular style of internal dialogue I just try to remind myself that once we make this planet uninhabitable for humans, either by bad art or bad air and water, other species will fill the niche and perhaps there will be a time when the rise and fall of hominoids will happen with a different set of defining values. 

Happy Canada Day, everyone!  ♥

 

18th Annual Snowflea Telefest – Feb. 21-23 /14

…just reposting my emailed letter from a few weeks ago here in the blog- in case we missed anyone! See you soon!

“Hellllooooooo!!! ‚Ķ..a reminder to join us for a fluffy and fun-filled weekend, our 18th Annual Snowflea Telefest, February 21st-23rd!
Hi folks!¬†Well, you just can’t keep a good deity down, and our personal buddha, Heikki Lunta, a.k.a. good ol’ Hank Snow has been flurrying us with his attention for a few months now!

Back-country conditions are amazing at present. It started snowing in early November and it just hasn’t stopped. Super cold temperatures have kept the snow very dry and deep, and every day there’s new powder to enjoy, on top of a base of 1.2 metres (that’s 3.5 feet for you southerners!)
But then of course, most of the middle of the continent is enjoying the same awesome conditions.

A few sad under-shovelled people are groaning about too much of a good thing – but not us Snowflea- ers!
‚Ķand hey, what’s with – “Polar Vortex”? ‚Ķ.didn’t we just used to call it winter?

Some of the excessive effort needed to survive this” Vortex”; (not to be confused with The Vortex of Pain on our trail system) – include catching your breath after a supreme 50-turn flight down the newest pitch, Lone Pine, slogging in a fresh access trail after every nights’ snowfall of 24 cm (10 inches) ‚Ķ and of course deciding what type of beer to reward oneself with after a thirsty day!

Lodge attendance has escalated this year as everyone bows down to old Heikki Рand once bent over past their knees I see most using their mittened hands to strap on those trusty skis and snowshoes. What can ya do Рthe only seasonal alternative is Hawaii, mall-walking or anti-depressants … or a radical option, like medical hibernation. (?)

So wouldn’t it be more fun to set your compass for some snorkel-skiing at The 18th Annual Snowflea Telefest 2014? Seventeen years so far – every single one of them a blast!

Check out the snowflea page on our website here:

http://www.bellevuevalleylodge.ca/shome.html

Here’s our fancy new poster courtesy of Ryan Creagh http://www.bellevuevalleylodge.ca/telefest2014.jpg

…. we would like to remind all local friends with time constraints we still offer a special rate that includes the Saturday afternoon tour on snowshoes or skis, full dinner and concert.
This year our featured performer is Roger Marin, a very talented alt-country singer-songwriter ~ www.rogermarin.com – ( you may remember seeing him playing guitar and pedal steel in Fred Eaglesmith’s band a few years back.)

Thanks to those of you who have already registered!

Anyone else? ‚Ķ.just drop us a line and let us know if you will be pitching a tent, staking a chair, or reserving a room ! (Yes, we are contemplating building a snow cave just for you, Mr. “Timex” Hill!)

…yers in a big white-out,
Robin