Before moving to Spokane, Washington, I lived on a river in southwest Florida. Instead of steelhead, suckerfish, and trout, we had water moccasins, lizards, and alligators. There are even crocodiles in some of the swamps in my hometown now, but they hadn’t migrated that far north until recently. As strange as it may seem, we didn’t fear swimming in the river when we were growing up. We always swam in groups and stayed close to the shore. Most alligators are more afraid of humans than humans are of them. The depressing fact is that it was the rampant pollution in this state over the past few decades that made our wonderful river unsafe to swim in for any extended period of time. The runoff from chemicals used in agriculture and mining are having serious repercussions of the natural environment here. Moving to Spokane was a literal breath of fresh air—so much that I don’t ever want to leave! The crisp mountain air is indescribable if you’ve never experienced it before. Just like in my hometown, a grand river cuts through the heart of Spokane, the Spokane River. Some winters the weather gets so cold that portions of the Spokane River freeze near the Spokane Falls at the Monroe Street Bridge and the Upper Spokane Falls at the Post Street Bridge. If it’s negative 20 degrees outside, you’re really going to feel it as much as you see it in the frozen scenery around you. I like to bundle up at home with the heat on at full blast, savoring my indoor oasis in the Washington winter blast.