“Comfort was not a priority; aesthetics were.”

I just finished reading William S. Burroughs’s Queer and the Beat goes on.  I had read On the Road a few years ago and all I kept thinking was, “Oh, for heaven’s sake, get a job,” but this was different.  Burroughs was a midwesterner who was born in St. Louis and died in Lawrence and bounced around in between.  And when I say bounced, I mean bounced.  While Kerouac just seemed like the deadbeat (ha) boyfriend your mother would lie awake at night worrying about, Burroughs made me feel his ache though we’ve nothing in common but geography.

Concurrently, I’ve had this article from House & Garden on my desk for weeks for no other reason than I like it.  More photo essay of Oberto Gili’s Italian get-away than article, the brief text seems appropriate.  I wanted to post it, but there did not seem to be much point.  Pretty, but no context.  

But if an entire movement of literature can be comprised of young men’s drug-induced stream of consciousness then surely my blog post needs neither explanation nor qualification.  

My year came to an end yesterday.  I have two calendars running at the same time and I am always distinctly aware of where I am in each.  While we are nearly mid-way through the calendar year we are at the end of the school year.  Summer begins today.

But yesterday as I was tying up a dozen loose ends I stopped to look at these images again and suddenly they captured everything that is summer.  This escape was no vacation home for Gili but instead a working farm which provided its relief not in relaxation but in a different sort of work.  He tended his garden, milked cows named for old girlfriends, gathered eggs and cooked.  He tried new things like making cheese from unpasteurized milk.  

And, yes, took pictures which he developed in his darkroom and edited at his kitchen table.  He had family nearby.  

And the bottom of his pool was tiled as the American flag – a tribute to his adopted home, but also just plain pleasing as the ripples of the water made it appear the flag was waving.

And, oddly, we have something in common, this playboy Italian photographer whose pictures I have posted and admired and I.

My escape from routine will entail a different kind of work.  And peonies and peaches and pools.  And I celebrated its beginning on a working farm staring into the big, brown eyes of calves and had my boot pecked by a chicken recovering from the abuse of an angry, perhaps disenfranchised, rooster.  She was wise enough, at least, not to let him put an apple on her head.

By mid-July perhaps I will have unraveled the mystery of where the stylist first placed I Married Adventure or decided if I should put iron conical lights over the kitchen island.

But today we begin late.  With doughnuts.  And all I can grasp is the appeal of smudgy turquoise with red and white, the scale of the blooms and the wrong rightness of the royal blue chair.

I spoke here in the past tense of Gili’s Italian home featured in House & Garden, November, 2005.  He may very well still own this home, but I cannot be sure.  The title of the post is a quote from the article. Gili goes on to say, “and a sense of purpose.”  All the photographs are his work.  The article was written by Marella Caracciolo and produced by Carolina Irving.  I Married Adventure, featured top, was written by Osa Johnson; she was from Chanute, Kansas.
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21 thoughts on ““Comfort was not a priority; aesthetics were.”

  1. Great post, so beautifully and interestingly written. I have never heard of Oberto Gili but I am going to look him up. His summer place is beautiful, but his photos are amazing. Very different from what I am used to seeing in home and design magazines. Oddly, I see a similarity in Gili’s pictures and what I remember from reading Burroughs. It’s as if they the world from a different frequency. I remember loving Kerouac when I was a teenager. I wonder if I would have the same feelings about him now–a few years ago I re-read Catcher in the Rye and it definitely did not hold up for me.

    That was a treat to read, Patricia. Thank you.

  2. “Many a story is called a saga”
    Just think of Summer, as one saga after the next.
    I am sure that it will provide fodder for many adventurous posts.

  3. tc – thank you, really. Gili does have a couple of books which I think can still be found. He did many of the stunning still lifes for HG – some of my favorite. You will likely notice his photo credits now that his name is familiar.

  4. * Your writing talents are especially noteworthy today, and I SO enjoyed seeing “the cows” and “the fields”~~~ (Yep, animal lover here)!!!

    THANKS so much, as always!
    Linda in AZ *

  5. Happy summer!
    Beautiful images. Every Friday I do a Friday Flowers post, and I just posted a pink and green picture realizing I should have done something more festive for Memorial Day! Some of these shots would have been great… hmm maybe I’ll do a ps with one of them and link everyone back to the rest of these pretty pictures!

  6. Mrs. Blandings,

    I applaud your sure-footedness in
    feeling not the slightest doubt or hesitation to offer “explanation nor qualification” for what might possibly serve as a whole new genre of literature.

    My take: enchanting, poetic, wistful — a view of summer I always feel at both its start and end. Gili’s images are mesmerizing, both immediate and inviting, as though one could step into the frame and lose yourself there forever, cradled in the “wrong rightness of the royal blue chair” of course.

  7. So many summers down at the farms of my aunts and uncles. Us city kids had a great time helping with the canning and milking and such!This is a summer I am really looking forward to!

  8. Read your post mid-morning…and again, just now, because it is so heartfelt and lyrical and brought a beautiful close to the day. Thank you for this. What a lovely gift.

  9. What a beautiful selection of images! I just found your gorgeous blog 🙂 Have a lovely weekend. Kellie

  10. Love that image with the flag! Just had dinner with Pam + Ken…can’t wait to see you for the flower show in July.

    Eddie + Jaithan

  11. Every one of your posts is like a journey and I’m always happy to go along for the ride. Happy Summer! Deborah

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