Tale of Two Cows

The original Cow-Cow Boogie. Paunat, France.
The original Cow-Cow Boogie. Paunat, France.

As opposed to the tale of one cow which is what you’ll hear if you dine at the French Laundry in Yountville. Apparently Thomas Keller will only serve butter from one particular bovine hidden somewhere in the depths of Vermont. The man just won’t quit.

Actually this is the tale of two cow groupings. When I was in Barcelona five years ago I happened upon these mirthful prancers in a home design shop on La Rambla. It was one of those great stores whose merchandise reflected the curatorial eye of an inspired buyer and not a computer algorithm back at corporate headquarters. The cows were just so frivolous and useless. I had to have them. I had no idea what I was going to do with them.

I left Barcelona for France to visit Peter and Barbara on the Foie Gras Trail. One afternoon we were talking about my odd-ball purchases in Spain. It was easier to get the cows out of the suitcase than to try to describe them. They loved them. We started placing them around the rooms in their early 19th Century village home.

They looked perfect wherever they were: on the cartouche above the kitchen hearth; in the deep-set window sill over the sink; and in the upstairs hallway on a bombe chest. It was obvious the quartet had found a home.

My hosts insisted on reimbursing me for the piece but I wouldn’t hear of it. Money is meaningless at times like this. (It might explain why I’m always broke.) To me it was just a matter of finding a one of a kind object and keeping it in my world. I was happy to leave it with friends. My work in Paunat was done.

One of a kind my ass. Two months ago I was perusing the Charles Townsend Close-Out Sale in Rancho Mirage when an audible gasp was heard throughout the store. I’d turned the corner to find the same cows used as a lamp base. I thought I’d left them behind in the Dordogne never to be seen again. It was a sign, I had to buy the lamp.

This time I’m keeping the cows. They’re in my studio apartment as a symbol of friendship between the sister cities of Paunat and Palm Springs. I did make some alterations to the taupe linen shade, however. It was too predictably tasteful and it was too low. If you placed the lamp below eye level you could see the bulb. So I increased the shade height by about 3 inches and covered it in a mint faux croc.

Lamp purists will object that the shade’s opaqueness does not provide enough illumination. But this is an accent piece not a task light. For that I have those special flood panels set up so the Burmese children, with their tiny hands, can do my bead work.

What it doesn't emit in light it exudes in style.
What it doesn’t emit in light it exudes in style.

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The Last Temptation of Me

4 thoughts on “Tale of Two Cows

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