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

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I just wanted to help, May 1963: Decatur, AL

My first license to drive came when I was 14 years old. The state of Florida granted restricted licensees at that age. The restriction was that an adult driver had to accompany me in the front seat. Most of my early lessons were driving my dad’s pickup. He used it mostly to haul boat trailers. I got to be accomplished at both towing and backing with trailers attached. By the time I was sixteen, I was able to go with my dad on boat deliveries. I felt lucky to be excused from school for a two week period to help take a load to Benton Harbor MI from our shop in Florida. Our route for a long time followed Highway 31. The journey one way took over three days and took us on a course through Alabama. One morning after having breakfast in a small diner on the main street in Decatur, my dad decided he needed a haircut. Next door there was a barber shop with not a long wait. He joined the line up and told me to wait outside.
I figured there would be time to explore around. Just across the street I was approached by a man inquiring if I would like a small job. I was curious and certainly felt like I could use the money. He offered twenty bucks if I would climb up his conveyer and paint the length of it with aluminum paint. I readily agreed, obtained a coffee can of paint, a beat up looking brush, and climbed to the top. I hoped to finish painting before my dad was finished with his haircut. My smaller statue made me the right one for this job, since I could climb to the top without upsetting the balance of the lengthy arm I would paint. I feverously slapped paint on the metal parts supporting the cloth conveyor belt that served as my perch, while I worked my way down.
I may have been an accomplished driver, but I was lacking a good sense of time. I got so focused on my job, and thinking about the twenty dollars I would receive, I completely lost track of the clock or even the fact that I had a father who likely would be wondering where I was. I got about halfway down the arm when I heard a familiar voice shout in a perturbed tone, “Robbie, get down here.” It was dad and not being done. I shouted, “Daddy, I got a job,” hoping he would be impressed by my ambition. Not quite. He seemed angry and wanted me down on the ground. I scampered down hoping to convince him, to let me finish the job. His tact was that I went missing without letting him know, and now our trip was held up. Secondly, I was pretty well covered with paint. It was going to take a bit of effort to clean me up. The gentleman who offered me the job, let us use his materials to clean the paint off me. I couldn’t figure if he was disappointed that the job was not finished. I was upset to lose a chance at getting my own money. Shortly we were back on the road, I in the driver’s seat,, headed north toward the Tennessee border.

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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.