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 15, 2008

Staying put awhile, April, 1975: Gainesville, FL

Since leaving Niagara on the Lake, Ontario on January 1, except for a brief stay at Grassy Key, I had not settled anywhere. This was in holding with my intention to travel for a year. One day after returning from mushroom gathering, I ventured on to the campus of University of Florida. There were rumblings of a massive student protest in the air caused by general upset over the steadily increasing cost of education. Besides being in an economic recession, the country was suffering huge inflation. Everywhere these costs were being passed on to the consumers. Here it was college students, and thousands were rallying in protest. The scene was dominated by a large stage where prearranged speakers would deliver their message over a sound system. After several leaders had addressed the crowd, the microphone was opened to anyone. Something stirred me to come forward and deliver a message.
I had noticed that throughout our country consumers were protesting rising prices by cutting back on their purchases. It seemed producers were getting the message. I knew nothing about economics but I reckoned that decreased demand resulted in increased supply, hence prices dropped. My message to students was, if they let go their education for a bit, administration would notice and perhaps prices would moderate. Apparently, I was inadvertently rousing early forms of consumer activism. My message seemed well received and afterward one student approached me and invited me to her house for dinner. Not only supper, but a place to stay came forward and I joined with Debbie, Kathy, Eddie and Paul in a student based commune. The women were students, the men not. My tasks besides daily journeying out to the fields consisted of housekeeping, cleaning, basic maintenance and providing comic relief. Having a supply of mushrooms on hand helped with this undertaking. Having a place to stay also made it possible to gather and dry a sizeable supply of mushrooms. I gathered many more than I could find takers for and a strings of bronze colored dried mushrooms had an artistic appeal.
One day Paul who had a vehicle, ventured out with me to observe my calling. Being adventuresome, we traveled to a new spot, but still in Alachua County. Finding a suitable place to park we walked through several fields till we were far removed from the road. We happened upon George, an elderly black man. George farmed 40 acres of land that his ancestors had received as reparations along with a mule after the war between the states and freeing of slaves. The mule had long since perished, but the forty acres was intact. His land was removed from thoroughfares and isolated. This suited George fine as he seldom saw use to go anywhere. His farm was pretty self sufficient and his needs minimal. After hearing seeing some examples of our collecting, George pointed over a slight rise and added, “If it’s those things you want, head over there. You’ll get all your need.”We thanked him and headed in the direction he pointed. Coming over the rise, we were greeted with a supermarket supply of mushrooms. We filled both shopping ages we brought along and left with a goodly store still on the shelves. Paul and I decided that we were recipients of the slogan, “Seek and ye shall find.” We further figured to leave the rest for others and headed home. It took me the rest of the day to string our bounty on lines for hanging and drying.
The house we stayed in provided a way station for many folks. Some of the people there were destined to form a community in the future. Others were just passing through. One, Esperanza, stayed for awhile and ended up traveling with me when I headed north to distribute mushroom communion. Before leaving, our household ventured to Ocala National Forest for a weekend getaway. We shared the campgrounds with competing Christian Fellowships. One group took to wearing no clothes, the other remained fully dressed. It seemed the clothed contingent judged the nude group to be not Christian. The nude bunch were more open and accepting. They did not seem judgmental about their clothed brothers. Our group not being put off by nudity were more attracted to the openness displayed by the naked members. We figured that if we were to get back to the Garden, dressing as Adam and Eve first appeared might be most appropriate. The two Christian groups went their separate ways peacefully. We returned home. Esperanza and I prepared for a northbound journey.


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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.