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

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A different kind of Community, March, 1975: Grassy Key, FL

Shortly after exiting the surf, from my foreseen nude swim, I wrapped a towel around me and went over to a large circle that held the central campfire for this beach commune. It almost had the feeling a downtown area of a small city. It was the area that newcomers would head to first upon arriving. It was here too that information would be dispersed and small business conducted. As a way of introduction, I took out a can of tobacco and rolling papers and set them on one of the huge logs that ringed the fireplace. I figured that sharing was the desired behavior for a community that seemed to lack resources. It worked and I was welcomed as some folks immediately set upon my offer. This behavior turned out to be commonplace, in that sharing was conducted almost on a religious level. Before the end of my first day here, another carload of folks showed up. Out stepped Terry, who I had met in Jackson Square in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. He dragged along Jennifer, Candy, and Roberta, Or, more to the point they dragged him along, since it was they who had a vehicle. We all spent that first evening near the central fire and slept scattered around on the ground except a couple of the woman reclined in their vehicle.
Just like in a city, after folks had landed downtown, they would eventually migrate to the suburbs. Here it meant setting up a site a distance up or down the shore or back in the mangrove bushes. I moved with Terry and the bunch he arrived with about a hundred yards away from downtown and we set up two tents. Along the shoreline other suburban outposts were established, most had beach frontage. Some were in tents, others in home made shelters of plastic tarps, and yet others in vehicles. There seemed to be a steady commerce of our slight resources mostly conducted in the downtown area. Work consisted of gathering food, water, tobacco, occasional other treats. Folks were resourceful in gleaning nature’s bounty. It seemed extreme, but some people would hitch to Homestead and sell blood for cash to purchase items not readily available in nature‘s store. We were able to carry out this endeavor without having ownership of the land. As yet, the trespassing laws were not enforceable without an owner’s complaint. The land we were staying on was of indeterminate ownership. The story was this beach was part of an estate that fell into no hands when heirs did not step forward. Apparently, it had been in this limbo for several years. As a bunch who did not desire to own land, we took advantage and found home. Rumor had it that an abandoned mansion in Marathon served the same purpose and offered an in town shelter for city folk.
It was a colorful bunch assembled together practicing the principles of sharing, caring and loving one another. It seemed I had finally found a group of people that were living up to some wide held religious values that had been preached but I never witnessed being lived. Together, we held this must resemble Paradise. In the meantime our numbers increased with folks who had left the struggle to survive in a winter when many brothers and sisters living elsewhere were suffering in a potent economic downturn. There was Gypsy, a young woman from California who nightly would travel into town and use her wiles to obtain a few drinks, a pack of tobacco, a sometimes small amount of cash. She often returned late at night and rouse everyone by shouting for her dog she always left behind. We put up with obtrusiveness because of her sharing community minded spirit. There was Phil, who seemed quite aloof, and preferred staying in an abandoned vehicle that even if it had an engine would not be drivable. Phil shared his living space with a collection of returnable bottles. He spent his time fishing and seemed to return daily with a nice catch, and a few more bottles gleaned from the beach. Every Sunday, Hector would show up with a host of Cuban immigrants. He would throw a large party in celebration of the beach he landed upon entering this country after crossing the Florida Straights in a small boat. He expressed genuine interest sharing with those less fortunate and understood the life style of those who preferred the path of the Beach Bum. Were it possible, I envisioned staying on this beach until living in Paradise engulfed the whole world. It remained to be determined how long that would take or how long my vigil would last.

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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.