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 21, 2008

Trying some more picking, August, 1975:Osoyoos, BC

Several days of harvesting garden, gathering eggs, bartering for milk and occasionally volunteering work on the community center did not generate much income. We were all short of money and decided that Lance, Alison and I would head to Osoyoos, another area where many growers needed help with harvesting. We left early in the morning and arrived in time to begin work. Not knowing which work would be best we headed into the biggest vineyard. We crossed through a barbed wire topped gate. The whole compound seemed to be ringed by a tall fence . It felt like we were entering a prison. We did get hired right away and were shown a two room tent on a platform where we would stay. We stashed our gear and boarded a flat bed truck with over a dozen other workers.
We proceeded to head off into the vineyards. This fortress like place likely comprised many square miles since as far as we could see in any direction were no signs of a boundary. We finally came to a stop and unloaded. Picking was not the task. Instead we were given small clippers and shown how to identify suckers. These were small branches that sprouted from the main vine. Clipping them off allowed the vine to put its energy fruiting. Each worker was placed into a row and headed off. The straw boss would then drive his vehicle around to the other side where the row ended. Lance, Alison and I were not assigned adjacent rows. When a worker emerged from a row the straw boss would point out the next row to head back into the direction from where you started. This continued till a lunch break. We ate in the field and after a short break began our task again. The work was tedious but conditions were pleasant. It was shady and cooler underneath the grape foliage. At some point, the three of us found ourselves in adjacent rows. We called ourselves to a break and gather under one row and just laid back for a spell. When some sprinkles turned on we finally decided break was over and went back to our respective rows and continued down the line. When we emerged there was no sign of straw boss, truck or other workers. We looked as far as we could and saw no sign of anything except fields being irrigated. We decided work was over and made our way on foot back to our tent.
Next thing you know, an official looking guy probably a manager shows up and questions, “ What are you guys doing back here.” We explained we had lost our crew and seeing that the sprinklers were on, we figured work was done. He led us up what looked like an airport control tower and pointed in the distance to what vaguely looked like our work truck. It was so far away we could see no evidence of workers. He assured us they were there. He decided our pay would be docked for our missing time. We were OK with that and asked for our money, so we could go to town and buy some groceries. He pointed to the gate that was now closed and locked. Their rule was the gate was open from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. Other times workers could neither come or go. What looked like a prison compound was now beginning to feel like one. We decided this was not for us, quit the job, collected our pay, and were let go. It did not take long to collect our gear and make an escape.
Still having time we began our search for more employment. Near the town of Osoyoos we found an old motel like place with a sign advertising help wanted. We stopped and found jobs picking tomatoes. The old motel was used to quarter the workers and pickers were paid by the hour. Most important we were not fenced in and were free to come and go after work. Presently there were no rooms available but we were free to camp on the lawn. We set up a spot just as the crews were returning. The evening was lively and the collection of transients, migrants, and young folks like ourselves gathered around campfires, ate, sang, and enjoyed each others company. We wondered whether the folks back at the fortress we left earlier were enjoying as much. Eventually our site quieted down and folks retired to gain rest for next days labor.

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.