To paraphrase and skewer Prince Hamlet:
Is it merely a job is it a higher calling, that is the question.
True, Hamlet was interested in weightier themes, but I also wonder about my decision to open a bnb. I’m definitely all in when it comes to running the bnb here, but what greater ends are sought by making and unmaking beds, baking muffins and frying up stove-top potatoes, sweeping the floors daily and then occasionally painting over dings in the wall and trim?
To what end do our actions lead us, that is always the question.
Current guest Scott threw me a curve ball. “Are you a fisherman?” he asked me over morning coffee. He and a buddy had driven north to Hiouchi, following the rain and a finding a river full of angry salmon swimming hard against the current.
The trip, impulsive as it was, was timed well. The river was dropping and as a result, sending downstream that particular scent that motivates salmon to race upstream. Scott and Mark had good luck fishing the day before having parked their boat over a channel of water near the Hiouchi Bridge, a known transit lane for the Smith’s prized species. (And to spoil the story a bit, they’d landed two exceptional salmon, one 35 pounds, the other about 20.)
Unlike most questions I get over morning coffee or evening beer, this one made me a tad uncomfortable. Because I’d already spent a good amount of time yakking about the Smith this and the Smith that, the undammed stuff, the wild and scenic stuff. Then I got to name-dropping the known local guides, even correcting them on nomenclature and ecology (Chinook salmon, Scott, and no way there are steelhead in the river this early).
I knew I wasn’t a fisherman but I spent an awful lot of time talking like one.
Here I was on one of the greatest stretches of fishable water in the world and yet underneath the yakity-yak knew I was only scratching the surface of the complicated and fascinating science of the fisheries here. I understood just enough about an industry that fed hundreds of local folk and put serious coin in the pockets of another thousand or so who operated businesses that relied on the fishermen and other tourists who came to the Smith. But no more. (I thought of all the frozen salmon and tuna in my freezers and quickly knew I was masquerading as an outdoorsman and adventure seeker. One blown circuit in the hot tub’s control panel or a toilet that couldn’t be unplugged and my big idea was toast. Yikes!)
No, not a fisherman, I had to answer.
Unbelievable I thought. I love the Smith dearly but I can’t fish it for the life of me. I could probably open a can of tuna with my bare hands easier then I could land a salmon or steelhead.
Run a small bnb and in between the coffee and chores you will probably ask yourself similar questions about your level of commitment, your knowledge base, and your curiosity — or a guest will ask them for you. In any case, we all answer for our sins and successes.