Welcome to Balanced Rocks: Pictures and Stories

Beginning March 16,2010, I began a journey of balancing rocks. I hold to the practice of setting to balance at least five sculptures a day, sometimes, many more. Of these I take lots of pictures and videos. While conducting this adventure, I have been introduced to an incredible unfolding story. Additionally, I discovered this phenomenon is manifesting worldwide. As I post pictures and stories, I found many others similarly engaged and sharing their works. Additionally, as folks come upon me performing my work, many want to find out how this is done and try themselves. This blog shares this work in both pictures and stories. Enjoy


A seeming impossibility becomes possible

Rock Balancing: The Beginning

On a fine summer day, sometime in August, 2009, I was visiting family in Toronto. Like most folks spending summer in a large city, we used up as much time as we could finding outdoor events that would cool us. One afternoon, we headed to the Beaches section of East Toronto. After spending some time playing in a large sandbox in the shade with my grandkids and some of their newfound companions, we headed to the Boardwalk that extends from Balmy Beach to Kew Gardens. Ella accompanied me, Liam took off with his mom, Natalie. They ventured down the boardwalk, Ella and I headed onto the sand toward the water’s edge. Halfway there we encountered what looked like a small size Stonehenge.

About a dozen sculptures were gathered together in a rough circle. Each was a stack of two or three rocks balanced one on another. The tallest one was slightly taller than Ella, who was small average height for a five year older. All were in the neighborhood of three feet and four feet tall. What immediately jumped out was the precarious nature of the balancing. Most points of contact were miraculously slight. Most seemed to be standing on a point. Two more folks were witnessing this amazing display. We imagined that there must be small metal rods embedded at the point of contact, or else some kind of glue was used. Each of us peered from close low angles to detect what could account for this mystical display. Ella, not being so cautious, toppled one structure over. Luckily, it did not land on her.

I hurried over and picked up the fallen rock. I saw no evidence of a rod or glue. It indeed had been balanced on its pedestal. I lifted it up and tried to place it back where I reckoned it had been balanced. I cautioned Ella, to be careful and not upset any more sculptures and went about the task of finding balance. I was not successful and struggled immensely but did not find the magic spot where stability could be achieved. After a lengthy effort, an attractive Asian woman about my age approached and gently nudged me aside offering to demonstrate her work. She pointed to the spot she would set the stone upon. She called it by a foreign name. To me it looked like a slight dimple.

Placing the small end of the upper rock into that hollow, she deftly and quickly moved it around, slightly twisting and cajoling it into position. The sight of this slender woman with longish graying hair performing an intricate dance with a rock slightly larger than her head emanated calmness. It seemed only the ends of her fingers were used to achieve these small movements. Apparently, equilibrium was close. Shortly she was done and withdrew her palms which naturally assumed an open prayer posture. The rock I had grappled with was majestically resting in its previous stable state. She next went over and reset two other structures, I had not noticed were also amiss. I just took them to be part of the rubble strewn about the beach. Now all the display was standing and providing a small sense of order in our chaotic world.

I never got this woman’s name, but heard her story. She had set this display up for the purpose of taking pictures, one of which she hoped to use for a cover of a book she was publishing. Unfortunately not getting her name makes it difficult to find her book. But I carried away with me the sight of her presentation and the incredible feeling I had witnessed an amazing ethereal event. I also felt an urge to explore this practice.

Rock in the Snow

Rock in the Snow
January in Toronto

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Last vestige of Winter, May 1974: Matane, PQ

It is at least a three day journey driving leisurely from Nova Scotia back to Toronto. Our week on the coast of Nova Scotia was mild, bright, and although the water was too chilly for swimming, the shore provided fantastic settings for beachcombing and hikes. Accompanying me was my daughter Natalie, and Liz a friend. We spent our nights in a tent. On our return, the first night was spent on a beach facing the Northumberland Strait between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. It was uncomfortably breezy during the night and we huddled for warmth but still slept fitfully. In morning light we observed a light snow cover over the whole landscape. We packed up and figured that as long as we did not camp on a beach we would make it home without more restless nights. We pressed on toward the Gaspe Peninsula.
On our map we noticed a large provincial park offered a road through it down to the shore of the Saint Laurence River. We decided that would be a good place to camp and being in a forest we could likely build a fire if needed. At the entrance to the park was a caretaker’s cabin. He spoke French and halting English, we did just the opposite. We gathered that the park was not yet open for the season, but he offered us a room in his cabin. We spent a warm pleasant evening enjoying his hospitality. He got pleasure from my daughter’s company, as at three years of age her willingness to speak French far surpassed ours. He spent hours playing with her and giving her elementary language lessons. We all slept well and awoke rested hoping to press on with our plan to drive through the park. After helping our host clean up the breakfast utensils, I brought out our map and pointed out our hoped for destination. Our host kept repeating lengthy phrases, the only word of which I could understand was “ferme.” I persisted questioning, even though I knew the park was closed could we just drive through it, si vous plais? He relented and opened the gate and sent us off.
The small dirt road ascended toward large peaks covered with evergreen forests. As we pressed on little snow covering appeared. With the increase in altitude the depth of snow augmented, It was evident that the road we traveled had been plowed throughout the winter. The banks on either side became higher than our vehicle. Suddenly, I noticed far ahead a figure walking in the chute that was our roadway. Drawing nearer it turned out to be a magnificent bull elk. When we got too close he would break into a trot. I would stop and as soon as he broke into a slower gait, I would drive forward. As I approached close again, the same pattern would repeat. With each successive try, we would manage to get closer before he needed to get space. Finally, instead of running, the splendid beast stopped and turned his head. I immediately halted and we spent a few moments communing. Eventually he resumed his saunter, until crossing a bridge he leapt over the side and landed on a creek bed several meters below. We paused and looked at one another. Liz offered, “ It was great to get to see you so close. Please take care next fall when hunters come into your woods.”
Just a bit up the road was a lodge. The plowing stopped there and I understood our host’s words that the road was “ferme.” As we proceeded to turn around and recrossed the bridge where we had bade goodbye to our elk host, we noticed the small stream trickling over a boulder. This was the headwaters of the Matane River. As we retraced our path down the mountain, we were aware that our road paralleled the growing river. We were treated to an astonishing vista as we followed the course of the river to where it emptied into the Saint Laurence. At its mouth, the river was a couple hundred meters across. By virtue of luck and bad communication we were blessed to be able to travel along this river from its source to its ending.

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Blog Archive

About Me, Part One

My photo
Rock Balancing: The Beginning. What began as a journal of my travels took a hiatus when I began to settle in Ithaca NY. In the meantime, I took up the practice of setting rocks to balance. I returned to my blog to begin recording this story

Part, The second

On Easter Sunday Morning, 2008, I made a decision to settle in the Ithaca New York area. At the same time, I decided to continue to post my blog, However, the stories now will come from the archive stored internally. These will be the stories I gathered while on previous journeys and never entrusted to paper. The date of each posting will not reflect the date of the story being related but will mark the date that narrative got inscribed.

Carry wood

Carry wood
33 years later

Part: The third

I took a brief hiatus from my daily blog writing. I did not know the direction it would take. part of me thought I would abandon it. It turns out I missed it. The old title "On the Road Again' is no longer apt. It appears I am settling. The travel stories will age to a point, when I will probably resusitiate them and do something with them. I dusted off some old stories and begin this new series.
Thr first is one was written two years ago. I edited it and begin again a series that is more apropos to someone settling in upper New York State. They are meant to warm, amuse, educate and sometimes inflame.