Discovering stories in every conversation

Reckonings, by Della Mallette, Grand Forks Gazette May 27.

There’s so much to discover in just 10 minutes.

I was reminded of this last week when the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance stopped in at the office.

Lorne Eckersley is a journalism school graduate with 36 years experience at the Advance. He is also a reporter, and writes weekly opinion and wine columns.

I had emailed him a question on an editorial issue, and as he’s also a popular freelancer writer for Food and Wine Trails Magazine, I took the opportunity to ask him what his favourite wine is—in a red, a bit on the bold side, and most importantly, under $20.

He had been in the Okanagan last week wearing his wine reviewer hat, and on his way home, he stopped in for a visit; one hand waving hello, the other bearing a bottle of wine.

His advice on topics for columns?

“I can talk to someone for 10 minutes and walk away with a column,” he said. “I don’t always know how it’s going to end, but I have the beginning.”

Several years ago we published a full-page feature on a regular basis. We called it Meet Your Neighbour. The articles were about everyday people–the idea being that you could look down your street and talk to any neighbour and discover that they have a story to tell.

The senior in the second house, perhaps he was in the war; the stay-at-home mom in the green house is a master gardener; the teenager at the end of the street is a musician sending beautiful notes out to the neighbourhood. Whatever age, everyone has a story.

My neighbourhood doesn’t have traditional paved streets aligned in a grid but I look around at neighbouring rural acreages and it’s no different. In fact, I hope you enjoy reading about Kyra Hogan. Jacob Noseworthy brings us a peak into her life, on page A13.

We published a similar set of stories just a few years ago, called Reminiscences. Those features had a slightly different focus but again, word windows gave us a glimpse into an everyday person’s life.

I will never forget Lorne’s comments about how to come up with a column topic. Whether it’s a person’s story or the story they tell, I reckon I need to listen first.

So how will this column end? At the beginning.

His favourite red wine? The best values on the shelves these days are often from Spain, he said. And he and his wife always enjoy The Grinder, a pinotage from South Africa.

But the bottle he carried in was a B.C. wine from Kaleden called SKAHA Vineyard Impulsion 2012.

It’s a mix of Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes, aged 20 months in French oak barrels. In winespeak: “Rich and balanced with bold layers of black cherry, raspberry and ripe plum. Sultry notes of crème brule, espresso and dark chocolate extend the finish.”

I’ll find out for myself once this week’s paper has been put to bed.

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If  you’re interested in becoming a freelancer writing human-interest articles, please give me a call (250-442-2191) or email me at editor@grandforksgazette.ca. You won’t get rich, but I will guarantee your life will be enriched.