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 15, 2008

A slow train a'coming, July, 1975: Wawa, ON

Our first day got us to North Bay, ON about half way from Ottawa to Sault Saint Marie. There was a slight drizzle so we sought shelter under a trailer in a sales lot. I found a large plastic tarp that provided a ground sheet. We spread my bed roll on it climbed in and spent the night snuggled and dry. In the morning, I reached out past my head to retrieve a cigarette when my hand plunked into some water. Coming to my senses, I found that we were surrounded by a shallow lake. During the night rain runoff lifted the edges of our ground cloth, making a dam. We were dry, but `had to figure out how to get us and our stuff out from under a trailer, past a large puddle and not get soaked in the process. We managed to secure our matches, smokes and Terry’s paperwork from the wetness. But in the process, we got ourselves and most of our clothing drenched. Luckily the rain had stopped and a close by Laundromat provided us with a place to hang out, eat breakfast, and dry our bedroll and clothing. By the time we got on the road it was the middle of a bright morning.
Rather quickly a older model car pulled over for us. We climbed in and met Gary who would be our sometimes traveling companion for almost the next two days. There was something about him that raised a flag of caution. He was hesitant to disclose the nature of his journey other than a friend had lent him this car and he was headed to Medicine Hat, Alberta. The constant aggravating feature was that Gary would drive the car no faster than 40 MPH. He claimed there was some problem that made it impossible to drive above that speed. I doubted his story and thought that if I had the chance to be the driver, I would try to break above that limit. It made it seem like a long slow trip was in front of us. We tried to entertain ourselves, but the talk was dry since Gary would not provide us with any story about his past and where he was headed. Without any details, I could make up this story. I figured him to be an escaped convict and who had likely commandeered this vehicle without an owner’s permission. That prevented me from offering to share the driving.
A couple of times, Terry and I would share a joint. Whatever crimes I imagined Gary to have committed, sharing in illegal drug use was not one of them. He would prefer an occasional beer, look the other way when we lit up, and press on ever so slowly. This ride was turning out to be only slightly better than standing on the side of the road not getting anywhere. As we approached the Sault, Gary announced he needed a tire and boasted that he knew a way to pinch one from a Canadian Tire store and even have them mount it unawares it was being pilfered. Surely we found a store and while Terry and I stayed outside, Gary did the deed. I suppose this made us accomplices to tire theft, and it certainly helped bolster my suspicions that our driver was a criminal. By the middle of the next evening we managed to get as far as Wawa, half way up the eastern shore of Lake Superior. We had been traveling all day and Gary pulled into a parking lot so we could all nap in the car.
I was in the back seat, not resting very well, Gary and Terry shared the front. At some point I was awakened by stirrings from the front seat and Terry’s voice complaining, “Please do not touch me, I thought we only stopped here to get some sleep.” Quickly, Gary responded apologetically, “Oh, I ‘m sorry, I didn’t know what I was doing.” From his tone and manner, he sounded quite under the influence of the constant beers he had been drinking all day. Luckily, he was not acting a violent drunk and perhaps his supposed crimes were not ones of brutality. I got over my fear of being in the drivers seat of a maybe stolen vehicle and offered to take the wheel. Gary and I changed seats; he quickly passed out in the back; Terry laid her head on my lap and fell asleep and I headed across the northern part of Lake Superior as fast as I could drive. At around 50 MPH the car felt unsafe and I proceeded at the pace we had traveled all the previous 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.