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, June 5, 2008

Barefoot in the City. June, 1975: New York, NY

I left Wayne in Baltimore and continued on my way to New England. The Interstate corridor between Baltimore-Washington and New York City is perhaps the most difficult to traverse as a hitchhiker. Patrols are most vigilant sweeping pedestrians off the roadway. Ramps and rest stops are the only areas that being out of a vehicle is permitted. Even bicycles are not permitted to enter the highway system. Yesterday’s travel covering a couple hundred miles in only a few hours was to be balanced out by prolonged periods of waiting off the roadway trying to entice someone to give me a lift. It was especially difficult to thumb before a toll booth leading to a highway that split in different directions. Then if someone did take a chance and stop for me, they may not even be going in my direction. I had yet to invent a sign that disclosed my direction to those available to give rides.
Trudging along with these impediments, it took most of the day to cover the two hundred miles to New York. When I got there, I was let out right after crossing the George Washington Bridge. Here the highway was a conglomeration of ramps, tunnels, no curbs or breakdown lanes where I could try to catch a ride. So I found myself in far upper Manhattan with no way to get out. I knew the transit system could get me across to the other side of the Bronx where the New England Thruway commenced. Experience taught me that once on that highway hitching conditions were vastly improved. My dilemma was I did not have enough carfare to take public transportation for more than one ride. Getting across upper Manhattan and Bronx would require multiple fares. I remembered that a single fare subway left from Times Square to the far reaches of East Bronx, quite near a highway ramp to New England. The solution required I hike to Times Square.
I reckoned I was on an island and as long as I did not cross any bodies of water, I would stay on that island. I also knew that Times Square was several miles to my south. I was currently near 177th street and my destination was near 42nd Street. So long, as I kept following declining street numbers and did not cross any rivers, I would reach Midtown. Then it would only be a short hike to Times Square, just about midway between the shores of two rivers that bounded Manhattan. What I had not figured was hiking barefoot, carrying a small bundle was immensely different going through the rubble strewn streets of New York than the damp mountains of West Virginia. But again I was embraced and carried through as a result of human kindness.
As I picked my way downtown, it was glaringly noticeable that uniformed officers largely ignored me. It wasn’t because I was so well camouflaged that I was not noticeable. A long haired white boy, carrying a bedroll, would not hide well in this environment. I figured they likely had enough tasks at hand and were quite willing to leave me to the fates. My attire also attracted good attention. Several times an elderly black man sitting on his stoop would motion or call me over. My hike was punctuated by small conversations with these block mayors. They showed interest in my journeys and likely were performing watch duties for their streets. More than once I was offered a swig of wine. I welcomed these breaks because it turned out that New York streets can prove perilous to bare feet. This whole walk felt less threatening than my hikes on clean rain washed roads in the mountain a few days ago.
Finally, I arrived at Times Square Station and used my last funds to get a subway ride to the far end of Buckner Boulevard, Bronx. From here was a short hike to an area next to where New England thruway commences. It also provided a sizeable space where I could spread out my bedroll and rest my weary feet. Being late evening, this became my campground for the night.


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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.