Opinion: And now, time for the good stuff

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Sorry for doing things backward.

When I started asking for opinions about what readers loved — or maybe didn’t like — about living in Kootenai County, obviously I planned to highlight the positive responses first.

And there have been a truckload of them.

On the other hand, almost everyone with a gripe mentioned traffic and uncontrolled growth, so I thought it was critical to address that.

I hope you saw the columns last Friday and Saturday, which put those particular problems in perspective.

But now it’s time to touch on the things that residents, some new and some who’ve been here for decades, claimed were reasons they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Before we start, though, let me say two things: First, I can’t possibly quote every email discussing this place (there were about 140), but thanks so much to all who wrote with comments; and second, some of the emails I will quote have been edited, so I could get their key points into print.

OK, are we good to go?

MOST OF the positive comments focused on two things: the landscape and all the outdoor activities it presents, and the people of our communities.

Over and over, I found myself reading about people — which, ironically, is my own favorite thing about living in North Idaho.

Sure, there were other reasons for being happy here.

This first one may sound funny, but if you’ve ever lived in humidity country (I spent three years in South Carolina), you’ll get it.

“The thing I love about living in Kootenai County is that we don’t have large bugs here like some other places do,” wrote Sharon King of Post Falls. “I’ve seen the cockroaches in the South, and I am deeply grateful I live in the Pacific Northwest.”

I loved that.

Maybe you ex-Californians don’t get it, but I’ll bet plenty of others are nodding their heads.

More toward the overwhelming trend of replies, though, was this one from Susie Bingham …

“I moved to Coeur d’Alene in 2000, from Northern California. I loved the beauty and the four seasons, but the reason I love living here even more is the people, who are friendly and seem to really care about each other.

“One of my first experiences was in a large retail store. I was at the check-out counter and the sales person started a conversation with me. That sure never happened where I came from. It was tough to even see a smile.”

In fact, quite a few readers mentioned the friendliness of retail store employees, restaurant staff and similar folk.

And I agree wholeheartedly.

YES, THERE were respondents who were unhappy with people in the area — but they quickly noted that these grumpy sorts must be newcomers, likely California ex-pats who hadn’t yet learned to relax into a North Idaho lifestyle.

Those writers were definitely in the minority, though.

Again and again, I read how locals here made such a positive impression on people they’d never met.

Connie Anderson of Coeur d’Alene mentioned a store experience (that happened relentlessly), but she also looked at it with a wider lens …

“After moving here, I went to the grocery store for the first time. As I was checking out the clerk asked me if I found everything I needed. I told her that my husband wanted Ding Dongs.

“I couldn’t find them, but that was OK because he really didn’t need those empty calories. She didn’t want me to disappoint my husband, though, and ran off to get them.

“I was embarrassed for the people in line behind me, but they just waited patiently.

“That’s what I like about the people here. They’re friendly and patient.

“I also like wonderful results of volunteerism, such as the Kroc, the library, the skate park and the carousel — just to name a few.”

ON AND ON it went.

I think I’ll let Susan Ashcraft of Post Falls do a great job of wrapping up the discussion — and making the point shared by so many others.

“Recently, my husband and I hosted a fundraiser in our home for an organization that raises service dogs for people with disabilities and are given free of charge to the disabled,” Susan wrote.

“We approached many businesses to request that they donate an item for our raffle to benefit Canine Companions for Independence. Do you believe that 30 businesses generously donated items and all proceeds went to CCI?

“Actually, that isn’t so unusual here, which is one reason we’ll be in North Idaho forever.

“It’s because of what we live by, and that is to treat others in a way that we would want to be treated.

“That’s why I’m proud to call where I live …

“Idahome.”

•••

Steve Cameron is a columnist for The Press.

A Brand New Day appears from Wednesday through Saturday each week.

Steve’s sports column runs on Tuesday.

Email: scameron@cdapress.com

Facebook: Steve Cameron

Twitter: @BrandNewDayCDA

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