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

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Picking with a ring, Sept, 1975: Wenatchee, WA

It felt serendipitous, when the van that stopped for us contained a crew from western Washington who were headed to Wenatchee for picking jobs, They lived on the Olympic peninsula in various sorts of abodes, mostly alternative. They seemed part of the back to the land movement that nevertheless had need for money occasionally. They told me that where they lived most work was in the timber industry. That was not suitable, since it required a full time commitment and could not be attempted casually. They heard picking was short term and awarded daily pay.
As we pulled into town it was notable that the farm laborer bureau was in a trailer right next to railroad tracks at a tight turn that made trains slow almost to a crawl, convenient for anyone hopping on or off. Luckily we had our own vehicle. In the office we saw an ad for immediate need for laborers to pick pears. We hurried away. When we arrived all four of us approached the boss who asked, “Any of you guys ring picked?” One of our crew quickly responded, “Sure, lots.” “Good, here’s your rings and those are your trees,” he pointed to a straggly row of pear trees. As we made walked toward our assignment, we questioned the one who had said he had experience. He did not. He admitted he said that so we would get the job. We did. Now we had to figure out what to do with the pair of two and a half inch diameter metal rings we had been given.
As newcomers, it seemed again, we were offered the barest fruits to pick. As we made our way there, an old-timer filled us in on our task. In picking, you slipped one of your rings over the pear. If it went past, you slipped it off and did not harvest that pear. If the pear was too big to let the ring past, that one you harvested. You were given two rings so that you could work with both hands. This method offered a sure way to size fruit as it was being picked. We were in reality doing two jobs: the pay was small. Even after getting the hang of it, combining our efforts we were barely able to fill two four foot cube boxes with harvest. We were paid thirty dollars per box. We felt disappointed at days end to realize fifteen dollars apiece for our labors. We collected our pay and headed off to camp by a stream. We spent the evening discussing our fortunes or lack thereof. We pretty much decided to not return to the pear trees. Even though one of the old-timers claimed he made sixty dollars each day, he stated it took him a whole season to get to that level. We were not willing to put in a whole year learning to earn a paltry wage for such difficult labor. The only hope glimmered on the news that a large apple orchard was beginning its harvest tomorrow and their trees were groaning with fruit. We went to bed determined that tomorrow would be a better day.

No comments:

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.