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, May 5, 2008

The party's over, February, 1975, Lake City, FL

The Mardi Gras celebration begins the week before Fat Tuesday. By Sunday it was already getting out of hand. On a nightly basis when they mounted police swept the streets, it was not a place to be for those who couldn’t move on command. For those not ensconced in rooms it got pretty ugly. I was more or less one of the street crowd and not enjoying the scene. I had gotten a handful of coins and beads thrown from parade floats and decided I had seen enough and was ready to move on. Making my way to I-10, I met another who had also had enough and was heading in my direction--Florida. Mike was a traveling reporter for a newspaper on Long Island. His method of travel was hitchhiking. I don’t know how he filed his stories but he produced his work on a small portable typewriter he carried with him. Mike had no arms.
He was born in the 1950’s, after his mother had taken thalidomide. As a result he had hands attached to small appendages on top of his shoulders. Mike was quite adept at using his hands in this location. When I first met him, he asked in greeting, “Wanna get stoned?” When I said , “OK,” he deftly reached into his shirt pocket, produced rolling papers and a small matchbox with pot in it. He quickly twisted up a joint, pulled out a match and sparked it. All the while a brisk wind was blowing that would have given me trouble getting a match to stay lit. By cupping his hands with his back to the wind, Mike got the joint lit and so did we.
I did not witness him typing, but I am certain he was well adapted and seemed to have no limitations. Quickly he used his thumb to fetch us a ride.
A Volkswagen Beetle towing an identical one pulled over. We got into the first one with Wayne. He had just finished a thirty year career in the US Marines and was moving all his belongings to Florida. He had room for us in the lead car, the rear one was loaded with his possessions. Wayne was a professional soldier, having served in WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam. He was a senior enlisted man and during times of no conflict attended the War College, a military institution to study and learn the art of war. He was certain that all his experience taught him one thing only. Wayne reiterated several times, “All I learned is dead men stink in the sun.” We spent several hours traveling through Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle trading war stories and anti-war stories. It seemed an unlikely paring, one who had avoided going to war and another who immersed himself in war having a meeting of minds about war’s outcome. When we parted at Lake City, Florida we offered each other congratulations for the courses we had taken. Mike had not said much during our trip, but like a good reporter took it all in and made notes. Together the three of us made that day’s story.


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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.