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, April 22, 2008

Picking tomatoes in the sun, August, 1975: Osoyoos, BC

Picking tomatoes in the sun, August, 1975: Osoyoos, BC
Our first day of picking tomatoes, began before the sun was up. We were roused just as light was breaking and told there was no time to cook breakfast as we would be heading out before it got full light. Our gang hustled to get dressed and gulp down some cold food. Seasoned veterans advised us to wear layers of clothing, ending at very brief attire. It was quite chilly as can happen at night in the desert. Soon, we clamored aboard a flatbed truck that had just enough space for the workers. It was also loaded with cases of half peck cartons we were to fill with tomatoes. When we arrived at the 10 acre field, there was not yet evidence of a sun. It was relatively light but still no shadows, when we received picking instructions. Each tomato has to be turned up and examined for a hint of red at the middle of the underside. If it shows, it is picked and placed carefully into its container. Once almost full, it is topped off with fully ripe red examples.
Since it was prized to be careful and not rush we are paid $3 per hour and not by the container. We seemed to be at work for at least an hour before the traces of shadow of the mountains to our east appeared on the slopes to our west. Above the retreating shadow was the brightness indicating a rising sun. Brightness advanced across the desert floor till suddenly a full sun appeared pretty high in the sky above the eastern range. Immediately temperatures leapt, clothing starting coming off and by noon a scantily clad crew worked its way through the harvest. Next door was a similar size field of cucumbers. At lunchtime loaves of bread, salt and mayonnaise appeared and we enjoyed fresh tomato cucumber sandwiches. Our straw boss showed up occasionally to make sure we were working not quickly but steadily.
Our crew seemed musically inclined and often would break into song. Since we were moving thru the field in a random pattern the singing duets, trios and sometimes quartets would comprise different members. It was like we had live radio without commercial breaks but occasional news announcements and editorial content to entertains us in our day’s work. One of the announcements concerned a young man who came toward us from the eastern slopes carrying a sizeable burlap sack. When he got to us, all work stopped briefly to attend to his story. In his sack were live rattlesnakes and he carefully exposed one to verify his story. He gathered them from the desert and delivered them to University in Vancouver to be milked for medical use. He assured us that afterward these snakes would be returned to their habitat. We were hearted that we were not witnessing wholesale destruction of a species for scientific benefit. Our days were rather long, and it was likely 12 hours had elapsed before we were transported back to home.
Evenings were low key. We seemed to have just enough juice to prepare supper, relax around the campfires and listen to the evening version of our live radio. Except now we had available a variety of instruments to accompany vocals. Also stories would spring up to instruct and amuse amidst the songs. Everyone seemed in fine spirits. Getting a steady wage, working to exhaustion and having relaxing times in the evening in the company of friendly strangers fulfilled our basic needs. There was a diverse element amongst us as it seemed several nationalities were represented, mostly from the Americas, North and South, but also the Caribbean. This added richness to our homespun entertainment and variety shows. It also added flavor to our meals. Certain of the crews who had more experience brought along their families. Their kids were helpful and some family members did not go out to the fields for work but stayed behind helping to prepare the evening feast. Although we were not destined to become financially wealthy in this pursuit, we nonetheless gained in culture and human awareness.


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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.