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

Friday, April 25, 2008

To everything there is a season, September, 1975: Osoyoos, BC

Traveling with Kootenay was relatively simple. He is still small enough to be carried, which I did most of the time. He responds well to my voice and comes when I call. Since traffic is light to non existent, I can put him down when we walk and he follows with me. He probably doesn’t have those curious dog instincts working yet and won’t give chase to intriguing sounds or smells. We arrived in Osoyoos before noon and gauging by the many people hanging out in the park, it must have been Sunday. I met some of the gang I worked with just a week ago. It was Sunday, their day off. Picking season for most crops was just about over and nearly everyone was no longer working. There seemed a bustling tourist atmosphere instead of a day of rest. People camping about were engaged in a different industry than picking.
Greg, who lived in a home made camper on the back of a heavy duty work truck crafted musical instruments. His story was he had learned his trade over the past few years apprenticed to a master in Nashville. Currently he was headed to ply his skill in Vancouver. He related that as he developed an interest in this business, he journeyed in his truck to Honduras and learned about the woods he needed to use crafting quality instruments. He worked for a season in the timber industry and collected prime examples of beautifully figured mahogany, rosewood and other examples that ended up in his pieces. His jewel was a mandolin that was pieced together with remnants of all his various species of hardwoods. It looked like a patchwork quilt but held fantastic sound. He exhibited a sizable knowledge of the tonal qualities of woods used in his instruments and he gifted me some scraps, I put to use in my own industry.
Passing time on the deck of a restaurant / bar overlooking the lake, I began carving astrological symbols from the scraps Greg left me. My goal was to complete a whole set of twelve. Soon after I finished the first one, I met Sharon whose symbol it was. She lived in a cabin in the nearby mountains and fashioned crafts. I gave her the symbol of her sign. She whipped out some twine and created a macramé necklace for it. When she finished she displayed her other skill. It took her hardly a breath to peddle it to a bar patron. We were in business. For the next two days I created the whole set which Sharon mounted on necklaces and sold. Neither of us ended up with our own symbol. This was an excellent occupation in that I could work while babysitting Kootenay. He was even welcomed on the restaurant outdoor deck.
On the second day an incident occurred that propelled me to think about heading out. I was conversing with a group of women when they invited me to join them in the ladies room to partake with some hashish smoking. “Sure,” I said. It did not seem odd until, an elderly female patron entered the room, looked me squarely in the eye, whirled around, went back to the door and examined the sign indicating the sex of that lavatory. She was right and I immediately left. Apparently she complained to management that a male disturbed her in the woman’s room. I was not caught, but realized I may be getting out of control and it seemed prudent to ply my skills elsewhere. I said goodbye to Sharon, left the bar and headed to the park. There I learned that there was no work available locally and pickers were heading south to work in the apple orchards of Washing ton. I was in a quandary; how was I to get an unlicensed puppy past the 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.