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

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

There's magic afoot, March 1975: Gainesville, FL

It became my daily task to hitch out to the field I was shown and harvest mushrooms. After spending a day communing with them I would return to town and distribute them, It seemed a sort of communion. I had plenty of takers. I turned out to be expert in identifying their growing patterns. Others became my guides and teachers in their use. Two aspects highlighted. One, mushrooms did not mix with alcohol and two, should not be exchanged for money. This last highlight reminded me of the story of Jesus tossing out the money changers. Should this element be stepped upon, a likely outcome seemed called for. I did not want to test these waters. Since the field I picked was several miles outside of Gainesville, I had to beg rides from others. On the return, my benefactors would usually accept my offer of a mushroom or two. It felt holy.
One day, my ride out was provided by a couple of young tourists who were interested in learning the art of picking. As was done with me, I was willing to share my knowledge. We drove out to my picking location. Even though it offered a spot to wander around unobserved, these guys did not like leaving their car where they could not see it. Consequently, we drove further out to find a location where we could pick and they could keep an eye on their vehicle. We found such a spot. We parked their car, climbed a fence and roamed around a pasture. After teaching them identification and gathering a few we were interrupted by a rancher in his pickup. He had come through the gate and tracked us down. He did not want us trespassing on his field. He pointed back to the road at a Marion County Sheriff’s car and said the driver would like to talk to us. We accepted his offer of a ride back to the gate. Along the way we decided to get rid of the mushrooms we had picked and ingested them, probably three or four apiece.
Upon arriving at the gate, the Sheriff’s Deputy was genial. He stated, “ If you want to eat something that grows in cow shit, that's your business. But I do not want you trespassing in my county.” He was sufficient with issuing a warning, provided we promised to not come back and trespass in his county. Seeing that my other location was Alachua County, I agreed to his request. My companions also readily agreed. We were let go and escaped back toward Gainesville. On the way, I decided to get off at my regular picking location. I had no mushrooms to bring back to town. They dropped me off and we separated to enjoy our respective “Good Ones.” After getting out in the middle of my familiar area, I remembered I had eaten a few mushrooms. I was used to eating one or two, never four. I spent the day, in deep spiritual union with my surroundings. My nightfall, I choose to stay there.
There were wooden platforms placed in the pasture. These were about a foot high and used to hold hay off the ground to keep it dry. They seemed like a good place to recline. Cows did not eat at night, there was soft bedding material and I did not have to worry about having my rest interrupted my armadillos or other ground creatures. Sometime in the middle of the night I was wakened by the sound of creatures of the walking erect two legged variety. Voices carried to me. By the sound of it, a couple of guys, obviously drunk, were seeking mushrooms. One phrase stood out, “I heard they glow in the dark. How come, we aren’t seeing any?” Out of the dark, I responded, “You guys looking for mushrooms?” Obviously taken aback, they jumped up with, “Who are you, what are you doing here?” I quickly assured them, I was only a mushroom picker, who was spending the night out in the field. I also informed them, I had never witnessed mushrooms glowing in the dark. and warned them alcohol and mushrooms would make an unwelcome mix. I offered them each a couple of mushrooms under the provision they would eat them after the effects of alcohol wore off. They accepted my story and offered me a ride back to town. I accepted. No sooner had they let me off and I walked under the carport roof at my sister Karen’s house than I large clap of thunder ushered in an immense rainstorm that lasted the rest of the night. I did not get hit by a drop. Some sort of magic had rescued me from having to stay several miles away from any decent shelter from this deluge.”

1 comment:

Julia Wise said...

Thanks for the stories, Rob.

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.