Reframing the Neighborhood: The Tao Way


Bay winds have been blowing wild-grass seeds

into the  ice-plant beds in front of

some of my neighbors’ bay-front homes

and setting up residence there,

so that now there are wild grasses

just outside their back fences,

and my neighbors would like the gardeners

to do something about that.


I walked over an had a look.   There’s a bike trail along there and a sandy walking path and then the native grasses on the edge of the bay and the City across the water.  I thought of New England and Block Island and the shore and the dunes and the grasses.  And Ansel Adams and Walt Whitman and Reframing.

The Tao

           The Neighborhood Where We Live


 Seeing Is a Choice We Make.

Reframing (Bandler and Grinder, 1982) is a book about changing the way you see things, trying out various frames till you find one that fits just right.  

From their back patios my neighbors can see across the water a natural area along the south shore of the main Alameda Island, where there’s a walking trail.  Many of us think it’s a treat to walk along there, wild grass on either side of the path mingled with whatever  succulents share the neighborhood.  There are some homes there too a bit farther up the slope.

South Shore Path

                                            The Tao

The Ansel-Adams connection I thought of was a photo of his of a development along a hillside in South San Francisco that I wanted to include in  book I was doing (Image, Macmillan, 1973). They reminded me of “Little Boxes,”  the 1962 song by Malvina Reynolds that Pete Seeger made popular, all those little boxes made out of “ticky tacky” that all looked “just the same.”

Little Boxes Pic

                    Photo by Ansel Adams

My View of How Things Are

Adams wrote back, “Oh, that necklace of houses on that hillside in South San Francisco.”  So I had another look and enlarged my view of how things are:


Ticky Tacky Little Houses?  A Necklace of Houses?

Ticky Tacky Little Houses

Ticky Tacky Little Houses?  A Necklace of Houses?

A Necklace of Houses on a Hillside





Little Boxes Pic

                                               The Tao

Note:  Adams, of course, was not a satirist.  So, if I had been more awake, I’d have realized that though these houses from one point of view could be seen as ticky tacky, that would not have been what Adams was up to.  He used his lens to tease nature into revealing herself as she is, without the overlay of the viewer’s intention.  No matter what I decide to think about the scene before me, it will not affect what’s there one jot.


 Whatever Object We Look Upon

The Whitman Album

THERE was a child went forth every day;
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became;
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morning-glories, and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird,    . . .
. . . or by the mire of the pond-side,

And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there—and the beautiful curious liquid,
And the water-plants with their graceful flat heads—all became part of him.

. . . and the commonest weeds by the road . . .

Kid in Park

                                     The tao


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.