Dailies: February 17, 2013
We meant to get up today and get a couple of the shots for our “Intro to Cremona” video, but it was Sunday. What the hey. Alexandra and I had an appointment to meet Nathan Ryan and Colin Ryan, brothers and co-proprietors of the Fallentimber Meadery in Water Valley, at 11am. Cody Jensen texted me around 9:15 to say he was on his way to pick up a camera, so I gave him the Eumig. He’s doing a film that integrates some 50 year old regular 8mm footage his grandma found right before we got here and we watched it with him. That stuff was pretty cool, all Kodachrome footage of team roping, breaking horses, harvesting hay, and so on.
A couple of inches of snow had fallen overnight so we tried to get on the road as quickly as we could after breakfast. We’re borrowing Gail and Wes’s son’s car, a late 80’s Mazda sedan and it does pretty well, but heading out west on the Water Valley road still felt treacherous. Most of the roads in Alberta run either North-South or East-West, and the East-West ones are difficult in winter because the north wind blows incessant drifts across the fields and onto the roads. Every dip in the road has its own widening bulge of white on the north side, and when you hit those patches, the wind floats you across them with only passing consideration to your preferred trajectory.
Despite the snow, we made it to the meadery just on time. Fallentimber Meadery is located way out west on the Ryan family farm where, unsurprisingly, they raise bees. We had arranged also to meet Nancy Olmstead there, and so she and Nathan and Colin met us when we walked in. Nathan explained to us that he and Colin, originally carpenters, had gone all the way through a home brew book until they came to the recipe for mead. Since honey was the family’s specialty, they figured they should stick with making mead (which is a wine made from honey) instead of spending money buying beer grains. Although only entering their third year, they have been very successful. Their operation is housed in a remodelled Quonset hut on the farm, and they produce eight varieties of mead in just four fermenting vats. The Ryan brothers are also working to perfect a “Session Mead”, carbonated, with a bit of hoppiness. They offered us a taste and we agreed that we would be great out of the tap!
After getting the full details of the mead-making process, we sat down with Nancy Olmstead for a few minutes. Nancy is a Royal Canadian Naval Reservist, and served for some time as a naval operations officer. She is also a safety engineer for Royal Dutch Shell, a job that keeps her busy in the sour gas country of western Alberta. She had some very interesting comments about Canadian military tradition, which we’ll assemble into a video later on.
We made it out of the meadery by about two thirty and headed down to the “Water Valley Olympics.” This event is in its fifth year and is held on a small pond next to a caboose on the property of a local couple. Included in the festivities are Ladies’ Biathalon, Speed Skating, Snow Golfing, and, of course, Curling. They curl with rounds of poplar with a bent framing nail for a handle, and there are many rounds of competition! All ages are welcome. It seemed to Alexandra and I that it was something almost out of another time. Many people came to talk to us about the project, including a man from the Northwest Territories who could not get enough of our Super 8mm cameras. I forgot my camera bag at the games, and when I came back hours later, the remaining group was clustered around a fire pit roasting wieners. As Wendy, one of the hosts, put it to us, “We get more use out of this pond in winter than we do in summer. It’s just so cold…you’ve got to have something to do!”
We came home, made macaroni casserole, and listened to the Canucks game online. Tomorrow is the first processing day. We will also get to see the famed Orange Tree.