Enumeration ANA MARIA SPAGNA
10 SkillS to hone for a poSt-oil future
1. Blacksmithing. To learn how
to live in a post-petroleum world, recall the
pre-petroleum world where blacksmiths
made everything: tools, nails, hinges,
lamps, hooks, gates, and railings. Wheels,
even! With a barrel and some fire, a blacksmith could turn rusted car panels into
cookware. Think of all the scrap metal we’ll
have when the oil’s all gone.
2. knot tying. Find a shoelace and
a copy of The Shipping News. Knots can
weave rugs, fashion snowshoes, repair
almost anything. A diamond hitch holds a
load on a mule or a sled. A bowline to
cinch a tarp, a Prusik to climb a tree. While
fighting a forest fire, a friend once fixed a
shovel with parachute cord, half-hitches,
and pine pitch. And when the parachute
cord runs out, there’s plenty of sinew. From
knot tying, it’s a short hop to basketry.
3. crosscut saw sharpening.
Crosscuts are remarkably effective. Not
chainsaw fast, not ax slow either. Problem
is, since anyone can use one, anyone can
ruin one by dragging it through dirt. Good
ones haven’t been made for seventy years,
so this lost art may be in high demand. Pick
up a file, spider set, and how-to manual on
eBay for about twenty bucks.
4. grafting. The Homestead Act required settlers to prove-up by planting fruit
trees. Nothing symbolized self-su;ciency
more. But plant an apple seed and — as anyone who’s read Michael Pollan knows — you
get sour apples. To get sizable, recognizable
fruit, you graft. Heritage apple guru Tom
photograph l linda mcnulty
Burford encourages everyone who knows
how to graft to teach five others. My partner
started by teaching the kids at the local one-room school. Her advice: bring Band-aids.
5. navigating By the stars.
If the Polynesians could crisscross the
Pacific without a GPS, we can too. Read
Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki for inspiration
and Chet Raymo’s 365 Starry Nights for elucidation. Few of us will build a balsa raft,
true, but remember : before planes, trains,
and automobiles, travel by water was faster
and easier than by land. Less light pollution
will certainly help us find our way.
6. handwriting. In seventh grade
the nuns forced me to practice cursive for
three weeks straight, which seemed pointless and cruel in the Apple II era. But
maybe the nuns were on to something.
How will we communicate without LED
screens? Smoke signals?
7. hoarding. Once my partner and
I tried to install a used cast-iron sink in
the bathroom only to find we needed an
antique hanger and fixtures to boot. An
old-timer neighbor kicked his boot toe
into some fir needles in his yard and—
voilà! — Restoration Hardware in the duff.
Hoarding gets a bad rap when there’s a
Home Depot on every corner, but not re-
ducing might actually be the key to recy-
cling and reusing.
8. rigging. Mechanical advantage
doesn’t require fuel. A pulley or block and
tackle magnifies force, so you can lift
heavier loads with less effort. No crane or
excavator needed. A grip hoist or come-along requires no energy source but your
own. You’ll appreciate the addictive magic
of this fact when you’ve lifted a thousand-pound footbridge all by your 120-pound
self. Believe me.
9. houseguest hosting. Ask
people in the developing world or anyone
who travels by foot, and they’ll tell you: if it
takes a long time to get somewhere, you’re
going to stay a while. So we need to be prepared. Keep clean sheets on hand. Save up
on food. And patience.
10. sleeping. Early to bed, late to
rise, saves on lamp oil and firewood. Plus,
sleeping saves energy, mostly your own. It
also keeps you healthy. Lack of sleep has
been linked to heart attack, stroke, high
blood pressure, obesity, psychiatric disorders, and poor quality of life. Why wait for
the power reserves to run dry? Start now
and get a jump on the future. A
What would you add to this list? Tell us at