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 29, 2008

The short end of a long detour, May, 1975: Peachtree, NC

My intention to travel north on back roads was losing steam. Three days on the road and I had yet covered two hundred miles. It seemed I may have to walk across Georgia. Weather was already getting steamy and romancing the idea of proceeding northward slowly was losing its appeal. I looked forward to heading toward New England via the Appalachian mountains. Southern Georgia has nothing resembling mountains. So I left US 441 and headed over to I-75 to increase the speed of this trip. Before I knew it, I was zooming around Atlanta, riding shotgun in a van. Traffic was heavy, but moving fast. I quickly was introduced to Southern Hospitality.
It was mid day, hot, and no time to stop for refreshment. Most folks were traveling with windows down. A car full of young black men was moving parallel along side us. The driver honked and after getting my attention waved an open can of beer at me. “Want a cool one, brother?” he offered. “Sure,” I replied, reached over and accomplished a beer relay without even a dip in speed. My driver kept pace perfectly so we obtained refreshments. I took a good sized swig and offered the can to the driver. He took a nip and handed it back to me. Not knowing if our neighbors were offering us the whole can, I looked over and pushed the half full can back out the window. The driver looked at me and questioned, “Do you eat pussy?’ “Sure”, I shot back. “Ok , keep the beer, I wouldn’t touch my lips to it, seeing where yours have been. Here’s another for the driver,” handing me a second cool one. Wanting to repay the kindness, I offered the only thing I was carrying, “Want any mushrooms?” “You mean those things that grow in cow shit? Man, you white folks put your lips on all kinds of stuff,” he teased back, declining my offer. “Stay cool brothers,” He added, then moved on ahead. It seemed the midday beer angel paid us a visit.
Shortly, I was let off near Chattanooga. Quickly, I was scooped up by Luke and Stephen. They were headed to visit a friend who lived east in the mountains of North Carolina and invited me along. “Yes,” I thought, “this detour is working out well.” My hosts were certain to point out a blight in their neighborhood. Long before we arrived, they described how a copper smelter had denuded a section of mountain valley on the way to Murphy, NC. Sure enough as we headed over a hill into Copper Basin, we were greeted by a sight that looked lunar but with red clay base. With this setting in mind , we continued on the way to Ralph’s cabin near Peachtree.
Getting there we decided a sojourn on mushrooms was called for as a way of mediating on the state of our planet, part that we just witnessed. Stephen, Luke and I hiked to a nearby summit to have a prolonged gaze into another reality. Ralph stayed near his cabin. Upon returning, we noticed Ralph standing in a pond holding the end of a sizable piece of rope. It ascended up into a large gum tree overhead. “What’s up?,” we asked. “Oh. I tied my camera up there and rigged this line to snap the shutter, so I can get a picture,” was the logical response. Sure enough the large rope was attached to a smaller line that ran to a camera secured in an upper limb. Just then he tugged the line, the camera dislodged from its perch, flew down, and splashed into the mud next to Ralph. He let out a curse then a wild laugh at the sight he presented. Covered with mud splash and camera deep into it, still with a sizable rope attached. We took it all in good humor.
Ralph changed course and became a chef. He fixed up an excellent example of Southern barbeque ribs. The meal complemented the setting and before retiring we sat around a fire and entertained ourselves with some bluegrass picking. The cool evening was a welcome relief to the heat I felt in the flatlands earlier that day. Gratitude was in order when I tucked myself into my bedroll.


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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.