Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is city editor of the Napa Valley Register.

Compared to the minimal greenhouse gas impacts of a family living in rural India or Botswana, Cheryl and I are environmental monsters.

If all earthlings consumed the planet’s resources at the rate we do, the Pacific Ocean would already be lapping at our front door.

I say this as our pool filter sucks up electricity nine hours a day, thousands of gallons of perfectly drinkable water are sprayed each week on our landscaping and a UPS truck regularly delivers non-essential consumables to our doorstep.

Our pool — rarely swum in — is an energy pig of the first order, but what are you going to do? Someone installed it, we have to maintain it.

Either that or call in a bulldozer. Sounds messy, right?

Cheryl prefers that we not talk about the financial and environmental costs associated with the pool. It dates to her first marriage when she had young children. She fondly remembers many a pool party from that era.

But as for now, the pool abandonment era?

Let’s not go there, Cheryl says. Let’s just maintain as best we can.

Agreed. Who wants a froggy swamp in the backyard.

To compensate for our pool’s throbbing consumption of electricity, I take solace that we don’t have home air conditioning.

On recent hot nights when our bedroom temp was in the 80s, we cooled off passively. Windows were thrown open, sheet thrown back. Minor sweating ensued.

Did you know that birds sing in the middle of the night? You might not know this if you had a fan humming at the foot of your bed or slept in air conditioned bliss.

Aren’t we virtuous, Cheryl! No air conditioning. No fan. We are people of the African savanna.

Only we really do need a bedroom fan, Cheryl said. For those super hot nights.

She dragged down an ancient pole fan from the upstairs that was on its last legs. The pole had been braced with two boards wrapped in duct tape. The blade screen kept popping off.

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I see your point, I said.

After substantial internet research, Cheryl found the pole fan of her dreams. Remote controlled, timer controlled. I never imagined such a thing.

But how to buy it? Order it online and have it delivered by truck to our house, or drive over to Solano County and pick it up ourselves?

Home delivery struck Cheryl as the environmentally less desirable option. One diesel truck to deliver one fan? Seriously?

But the truck’s fuel consumption is built into the price of the fan, I said. If we drive to Solano, fuel is an added cost for us.

Either way, I supposed the fan would come in a cardboard box. There goes another bit of rain forest.

Environmental concerns came into play this month as we made one final big decision for our living room makeover, now two years old. Refinish the original redwood flooring circa 1890 or replace the old wall-to-wall carpeting with new?

We knew what an old house purist would do, but honestly, that flooring was in sad shape. So wall-to-wall it would be.

But what kind?

Carpeting is commonly made of synthetic fibers, but polypropylene and polyester have a big carbon footprint, yes?

Cheryl opted not go the petrochemical route. She picked wool.

Wool sounded lovely. I envisioned frolicking sheep happily giving up their winter coats, then heading out to pasture to eat more grass and grow more wool.

The wool carpet got installed last week. I can’t begin to describe how cushy good it feels to my bare feet. I feel somehow connected to nature.

In the living room, away from the sound of the throbbing pool motor, I am in harmony with the universe.

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Kevin can be reached at 707-256-2217 or Napa Valley Register, 1615 Soscol Ave., Napa, 94559, or kcourtney@napanews.com.


City Editor

Kevin has been city editor since September 2010. He joined the Register in 1973 as a reporter. He covered Napa City Hall and assorted other beats over the years. Kevin has been writing his Napa Journal column on Sundays since 1989.