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

Monday, April 28, 2008

One day of picking apples, September, 1975: Okanogon, WA

Over thirty people showed up to help with the apple harvest. It was the first day of the season that looked to extend into October. This operation had many orchards with different varieties coming into ripeness at varied times. Now was the beginning, later varieties would stretch the season. The trees seemed to be loaded with fruit and it did not appear that we would get stuck on any barren ones. This looked to be a day when we could finally get adequate reward for our labors. The whole lot attacked there respective trees and by mid afternoon we had a large flat bed trailer loaded with four foot cubes full of apples. The pay for each box was $25. Each of our crew was able to fill two boxes. Fifty dollars seemed fair wage for hard work but not quite a full day. We sat up camp and the grower took his load of apples to market.
As we were getting ready to make a fire and settle in for the night the grower returned with his trailer still loaded with apples. He immediately informed all the pickers we were laid off. He begrudged paying us for our labor then explained he had not been offered a price that the Apple Growers Cooperative had agreed as a minimum selling price. Angrily he explained that his next step would be to use his bulldozer to bury the fruits of our labors, then withhold his crop from market until prices increased. We were informed that picking would likely recommence in about a week. In the meantime no one would be allowed to stay on his property.
We left and headed toward Okanogan the county seat. One of our crew had collected food stamps back home. He proposed going to the food stamp office and getting this month’s allotment. In order to receive them he would have to show he had cooking facilities. We found an excellent spot to camp near a creek. Here he set up what appeared to be a kitchen. It was possible to receive food stamps even if living in a camp. All that was required is having separate cooking facilities. We constructed what looked to be his own kitchen in case an inspector visited. With our outdoor home setup we enjoyed a hearty meal. After dinner we carried on a conversation about the state of food production and distribution.
Of course we were disappointed to have lost an opportunity to gain perhaps a couple of week’s work at a decent wage. What stuck us was that a farmer could choose to bury a sizeable harvest when there were hungry people scattered about the world. This coincided with a recent story that the Egg Marketing Board in Quebec had buried several million eggs for the same reason. We realized that farmers were due a good return for their produce, but something seemed amiss about these kinds of actions. Then we mentioned that on the other hand one of our troop was getting government assistance to purchase groceries. Given the inequitable nature our food system spawned, it was no wonder a generation was choosing to live alternatively. We did not have answers. The next morning, we were turned down for food stamps. This gang was headed back to the Olympic National Forest to pursue their luck. I was invited but it did not seem attractive to head toward a spot where receiving food stamps was regarded as form of income. We parted in the morning. I wished them well and headed down the road with Kootenay who had no idea that food was causing much grief.


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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.