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.
Seeing Is a Choice We Make.
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.”
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:
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 . . .