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, May 30, 2008

Going up the hill, May, 1975: Middlesboro, KY

Going up the hill, May, 1975: Middlesboro, KY
Shortly after leaving Peachtree and following US 64 east, I came to US 441, the same highway I left in southern Georgia. Travel was so slow, and rides so sparse, I felt concerned, I may never get to the mountains. Here I decided to get back to my old friend and continue north on her. Heading up a hill, A Volkswagen Camper van pulled over for me. I was picked up by Jack and Jill. Well, really it was John and Jill. But, Jack suffices for John. Coincidentally they had left Gainesville, same time as me, and by staying on 441 kept up with me. They drove, I hitched. They had the same goal as I: we both wanted to travel slowly, stay on back roads and experience heartland America. They hoped to spend the summer in their camper traveling all the way to Alaska, which meant traveling in heartland Canada as well. I had hopes for heading out west, but that would have to wait until I visited my folks in Massachusetts.
Jack was a historian and filled us in on the significance of Cumberland Gap. Here three states met up--Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia hovered nearby. These folks traveled just as I liked. We stopped often and took in local lore. Distance we covered was not great but by the end of the day pulled into a camp site in Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. After setting up camp we headed over to join a game of volleyball. Here I received a portend of my coming adventure in Appalachia. At one point, the ball traveled away from us and headed over the edge of our field. I chased after it and headed down the embankment. Before I could stop the embankment turned into a cliff. I had a leap of about one story to a roadway below. Luckily, no traffic was on the road and I did not spill and kept upright. The ball was rolling away down the road.
Walking back after retrieving it, I had time to ponder the slogan, “Look before you leap.“ I could also be grateful, I had not broken my crown. I had not any fear about being on the road alone. I heard plenty of stories about pitfalls and tragedy that befell those on comparable journeys. I tried to maintain a positive attitude and believed I did not have to suffer like experiences. I also felt somewhat blessed as tonight’s leap displayed. Whether it be luck or some protecting spirit, I was able to return onto the court with our ball and resume recreation. In any case, I felt it wise to pay heed to the leaps one is about to take. This lesson would repeat several times in the next days. These mountains have a primal feel that gives the sense a misstep could be disastrous. But tonight, I again got to enjoy live bluegrass music and sleep in fresh mountain air.


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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.