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 1, 2008

One last crossing, September, 1975: Blanchard, ID

For the past two months, I had been sojourning in either British Columbia or Washington State, mostly in the eastern parts. I was now intent about heading southeasterly, mostly likely to Florida. Proceeding easterly from Salmo is a road with a romantic name--Crowsnest Highway. The driver of my ride pointed out a small country road that headed south towards the border. This crossing led to the most eastern part of Washington and then Idaho. I asked to be let out here and felt hopeful I would finally be escaping the Pacific northwest. If need be, I was determined to walk the five or six miles to the border crossing.
It was mid afternoon, and ahead of me was possibly the most obscure border crossing. There was no traffic to beg a ride from and walking provided an opportunity to take in the beautiful scenery. About halfway to the border a car pulled over unbidden, One of several youngsters aboard asked, “Are you twenty one?” Quickly, I responded, “Yes, wanna see some ID?” Just as fast, the driver offered, “You’re just the person we wanted. Would you like a case of beer?” Somewhat taken aback by the offer, I replied, “ I am only going to the border just a couple of miles away, and don‘t think I want to be carrying a case of beer.” The driver assured me, “We only want you to take possession until the border. We bought a case in BC where the legal age is nineteen. Washington is a twenty one state and we cannot possess it here. So we want you to tell them it is yours and we will give you a ride to Idaho. We‘ll even let you drink a couple.” Deciding to become complicit in cross border under age drinking, I agreed and hopped in. We got to the checkpoint right away. As we sat there, preparing to answer some questions with outright lies, we met another hitchhiker headed north who was running into complications.
Lloyd had spent the summer in California picking avocadoes. He was headed home with a knapsack full of them. Unfortunately, he was not allowed to transport vegetable material across the border without license or permit. He offered to give all of them to us. I accepted and in return, offered him a beer provided he could take it across the border. The Canadian border official let him carry one back into British Columbia since it had been purchased there. The American official did not seem to care one way or the other which way the beer was traveling. He did not even ask the kids or me our ages. Nor did he ask for ID. It was sufficient that we stated we were US citizens. We were quickly on our way and the kids just as rapidly attacked my case of beer. They were slightly upset, I gave away one of their beers. They were not interested in any of the avocadoes. We worked it out when I told them I had given Lloyd the beer they offered to give to me. That worked and eventually they relented and gave me a cold one.
It was just outside Delkena when we pulled over to empty bladders full from all the beer that had been consumed. Alan, the driver was peeing on the front hubcap when he shouted, “Holy Shit, this is steaming.” Sure enough steam and sizzle was erupting from the hubcap that had been quenched with beer pee. Without touching it, I could sense its warmth and suggested the wheel bearing may be bad and possibly letting go. It was just approaching nightfall when we found a gas station. The attendant did not handle the kind of repair we needed. He did , however, send us up into the hills to someone who could help us. We found a garage/junkyard where the owner agreed to lend us a hand. While I assisted him, the rest of the crew sat in his living room drinking my beers and watching television. There was no possibility of ordering a wheel bearing tonight so the proprietor graciously removed one from his vehicle and put it on ours. For his efforts he charged us twenty. The kids shared with him one of my few remaining brews and we were underway. Soon, I was let off in their hometown of Blanchard, Idaho. I found a nice field to sleep off the effects of not having to consume a whole case of beer.


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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.