Reskilling a Generation

This post is dedicated to the wonderful and wise women in my life – mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and friends – who have inspired me to nurture a creative life and ensure that their skills are passed on.

My Grandmother and my Neice

My Grandmother and my Neice

I grew up with a very creative and talented mother who grew every imaginable vegetable for our family of five, sewed our clothes when we were young, and made all kinds of our food from scratch, from loaves of bread to ice cream. As a child, I took these skills somewhat for granted, though I did often note while visiting friends that this type of lifestyle was somewhat exceptional. In recent years, I have lamented that I did not make more of an effort to learn these skills. While I spent a lot of time doing my own crafting on the floor while watching my mothers foot press down on the sewing machine’s pedal; hovering over (while, really below) her marble slab while she kneaded bread; and weeding upon request, I never really asked for lessons. I certainly picked up a lot through osmosis but I was never exactly an apprentice.

Fortunately, there is still time to learn these skills from the generations that preceded me; and I intend to! My Grandmother, Helen was, and still is, a very talented cook. Next time I talk to her, I intend to ask her for her favourite recipe. My mother deserves major awards for her gardens, which only a few people see on the small island where she lives, but I am learning about gardening mainly from the internet and books. I would love to spend a whole gardening season with her, intentionally inheriting her well-honed methods and tricks – maybe someday I will be fortunate enough to do so. In the meantime, there is always the phone and facebook!

I have been fortunate enough to also inherit a wonderful and talented mother-in-law. Rachelle is an incredible seamstress and cook, among other things, and also a wonderful storyteller. For two weeks in March, she and my father-in-law flew from Quebec to stay with Mat and I for two weeks. Did I ever take advantage of having her here! We cooked, sewed, cleaned, gardened and talked A LOT. I inherited a lot of stories from this compassionate and joyful woman. She reminded me of how important it is to share stories, especially with good people over delicious food and wine.

I learned a lot from her, but she also learned a few things from us “kids.” I talked to her a lot about sustainability, permaculture, organic food and gardening, and why it is especially important now that we do not lose important skills.  She read our lasagna gardening book and was thrilled; she plans to start a lasagna garden as soon as the soil is workable in Quebec in Spring! She giggled a bit when I told her that composting and buying food locally were now considered political actions – this way of doing things used to be so common, how could it be subversive? Our mothers and grandmothers sometimes take their very valuable skills for granted, which is why it is important that we make an effort to learn them. I will not be the generation that breaks the line of skill-inheritance.

Rachelle and I had a wonderful week sharing our skills and creating together. I would like to share with you a few photos of a very rewarding week. I will also share her pastry recipe, which she uses for her delicious Tortiere, Chicken Pot Pies and Fruit Pies. Thanks to my lovely mother-in-law our freezer is stocked with pastry dough and at least a dozen meat pies. Thanks to this wonderful time with family, our home has been thoroughly warmed.

I can’t wait to do it again with my mom when she comes to visit (hint, hint).

Rachelle telling a story during dinner with my cousins

Rachelle telling a story during dinner with my cousins

learning how to cut out a dress pattern and tricks to maximize fabric

learning how to cut out a dress pattern and tricks to maximize fabric

Mat and I get a pastry lesson - it's all about texture!

Mat and I get a pastry lesson - it's all about texture!

the delicious result of hours spent in the kitchen

the delicious result of hours spent in the kitchen


Filed under Action, Community, Food, Gardening, Recipe, Reskilling, Thrift, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Reskilling a Generation

  1. Pingback: John Coldframe: Lush Life « The Freedom Project

  2. My grandmother taught me how to scour sheep fleece and then prepare it for spinning on a drum carder. She wasn’t confident enough in her own spinning skills to teach me, so together we attended a local spinning group, where a lovely woman demonstrated the basic techniques to me. Later, I was shown how to do simply plying and Navajo plying, too. That group continues to be an amazing resource for me. I now do spinning demonstrations regularly at our local farmer’s market (where I’m a vendor selling fibre for spinning) and occasional at a local museum for school groups.
    Our local country fairs are a showcase for domestic sciences, art and crafts, and I recently joined the board of directors of our local fair to support our traditions.

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