Today’s post is by freelance writer and author Chris Niskanen on his new book, The Minnesota Book of Skills: Your Guide to Smoking Whitefish, Sauna Etiquette, Tick Extraction, and More.
When I was in junior high school, I took an aptitude test that showed I had a strong skill set and desire for welding and writing. Ever since, I’ve been fascinated by people with unique skills, and my career as an outdoor writer allowed me to write about them and learn from them.
A few years ago, I met a family who spent a year preparing for their Thanksgiving meal — every dish had to be grown, harvested, or foraged by a family member; nothing could be store-bought. What fascinated me was the journey the family took in order to have that unique experience of a Thanksgiving meal prepared truly from scratch. They not only experienced the joy of creating or harvesting food for each other, but they got to share those stories around the dinner table. Minnesota settlers and immigrants needed skills in order to survive; today, we’re seeking out those same skills not because we need them but because we see value in them — activities such as raising our own gardens and chickens, canning our own food, and making our own beer, for example.
The irony is our modern life affords us the luxury and time to learn skills that were life-giving and necessary for our ancestors. My grandmother probably hated canning green beans, but I look forward to a summer weekend doing it now, even though I can afford to go buy fresh green beans virtually year-round. Why is that?
Find out how to can those green beans — and read stories of people who are as interesting as the skills they possess — in The Minnesota Book of Skills.