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

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Letting off steam, September 1975: Ogden, UT

I got under way from Boise headed east. Local lore included the Snake River Canyon that defeated Evil Knievel’s attempt at clearing it in a jump with a rocket powered motorcycle the previous year. I was given a ride by a band of natives in a pickup truck who provided me with another tale they thought had much greater implications for disaster. As we headed east on I-84 toward the desert they pointed back to the mountains in the west. Here they told stories of working on a project drilling large wells into geothermal pockets of super heated steam. These held dual promise and an enormous threat. Under pressure steam will absorb heat well past the boiling point of water. Deep in the earth steam can reach several thousand degrees Fahrenheit. As it comes to the surface, it releases enormous pressure. This can be used to power electric turbines. Once the heat and pressure is dissipated steam becomes water to be used to irrigate millions of acres of desert.
The wells either under construction or being proposed were a dozen feet in diameter and thousands of feet deep. The enormity of this project was mind boggling. These natives were concerned because part of this project was being conducted on tribal lands. This bunch was concerned by the possible threat contained within. They questioned what effect are we having by removing so much pressure from deep in the earth. Of course scientists promoting this project were assuring that the water being released from the bowels of the earth would naturally be replaced. These guys were skeptical. They were headed east on I-86; I wanted to travel further south on I-84. So I was let out in the middle of the Great American Desert where the highways split. There was no exit, facilities, or reststop and except for the vehicles whizzing by, no sign of civilization as far as the eye could see in any direction. While standing there I had two things to ponder. One, I would not be walking away from here and most certainly would have to rely upon the kindness of a stranger for rescue. Secondly, as I gazed at the mountains toward the setting sun, I wondered what effect removing hydraulic pressure from deep beneath an unstable geological formation would have on plate tectonics just to the west in California. My first concern was relieved pretty quickly.
I was picked up and brought to Ogden Utah, almost a hundred miles south. I found a nice platform raised off the ground so that I could sleep above the desert floor. Nearby was a store where I could use the last of my funds to get a six pack of Coors beer. I drank one before going to sleep, still pondering the enormity and gravity of the tale I heard today.


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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.