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

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Everything comes to and end, August, 1975: Osoyoos, BC

We spent a couple more days in the picking routine. Every day much of the same, chilly mornings, clear hot days, ending with sated bodies relaxing around campfires in the evening. Not much remarkable occurred until Sunday. There was no work, so many of us spent most of the day in town at a park bordering Lake Osoyoos. It seemed like many folks came down from the hills to join in the day of rest. While traditional people gathered in church halls, our tribe held its meeting out of doors. Theirs seemed about an hour, ours lasted all day. Folks who were on the road, those who escaped individually or communally into the hills and those like us who sought temporary labor sang, danced, and shared stories, food, and mind altering substances. The weather was similar to the week days spent out in the full sun, but today we enjoyed shade from magnificent trees overlooking lakeshore. In the afternoon, we were joined by many of those who spent their morning in denominational churches.
Sometime in the afternoon, a rumor began circulating that we would no longer be paid by the hour but changed to piece work. This news was disconcerting, we were not getting wealthy as it was and now we feared our work style would not be sustainable. There was a meeting called in management’s office late in the afternoon. Piecemeal we reassembled back at our living quarters. Mood was turning depressing as we gathered our grumbling and prepared for a meeting we feared would not turn out well. Some of the veterans assured us these switches were inevitable as the season progressed. They seemed willing to hang in there.
It was just before our evening meal on our day of rest when the meeting commenced.
It was explained that now that the bulk of harvesting had been conducted the tomato vines were sparse and it was not feasible to continue paying by the hour for an increasingly meager yield. The significance being that those picking would not be able to match their slight hourly wage as the crop was dwindling. It made slight sense but felt unfair. Many of us determined we would not stay even as gleaners. I was losing my taste for tomatoes and my mouth and many others produced their own crops of ulcers as a result of a heavy acidic diet. It was time to move on. Management agreed to pay immediately any wages due to those who chose to leave and would allow us to stay on their property one more night.
As we marched out of the office someone broke out a song and we left singing in unison the words from Wooden Ships, “Silver people on the shore line, let us be…. We are leaving-- you don’t need us.” Our last evening was more lively as it followed a day of rest and was filled with the energy of impending separations. That only changed the tunes, tone and volume of our live radio. In the morning Lance, Alison and I headed back to Slocan with slightly more money.


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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.