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

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Barefoot in the hills. June, 1975: Williamson, WV

I awoke early, before any traffic was moving. I was feeling a little foggy getting over the effects of helping Larry get rid of all his beers yesterday. Just as I approached the highway a fast moving car screeched to a halt a few yards away. I hurried over and climbed aboard. Shirley gunned her engine and we took off quickly getting back to speed. Her fast driving forced her to drift to the other side of the road going through curves. I remember seeing many coal trucks on the road yesterday and wondered how we would manage should one appear in our path today. When I put this idea to Shirley she had a quick answer, “I head this way every morning on my way to work. No coal drivers are working yet. Believe me honey, I serve them coffee before they start.” She was charged with opening a diner and making sure hot coffee was ready when the doors opened.
It seemed we traveled long and far before we spun into a parking lot and slammed to a halt right in front of the kitchen door. Shirley offered me cold cereal and a taste of fresh coffee. She was my fast moving road angel for the day. Shortly several coal trucks parked, their drivers came inside and got breakfast before going out and hauling their loads over roads Shirley blazed. I left determined to get to West Virginia. It would take nearly all day to cover those few miles. My fast start slowed down. Though it was not raining, a solid mist permeated the air and thick dew covered everything, making for a damp hike. Wanting to preserve my sandals from getting soaked, I removed them and proceeded onward barefooted. Although soggy it was comfortably warm. It was probably afternoon before I caught a ride. Eric was heading into town to his bootlegger. I would get to see the urban way of plying that trade.
We pulled into a gas station that seemed to have a thriving business. The pump jockey came and took our order. In the few moments it took to fill it, several other vehicles came and went, none getting any gas. This bootlegger seemed to conduct only drive in service. Eric purchased a bottle of whiskey and offered to take me to the other side of town before returning back from where we came. On the way, Eric made his pitch. He claimed to be a retired career Marine drill instructor. He revealed he liked that work because of his attraction to men. He had that same attraction toward me. I reflected back to several months previous when I was traveling south through West Virginia when a late night driver offered a ride in exchange for a sexual encounter. Here I already had the ride but the offer was on the table. Eric wanted to give me oral sex. I decided to let him try. He was quick and professional. I closed my eyes and thought of women. We quickly got finished and Eric let me go on my way. He seemed satisfied with our encounter. It did not leave me with a feeling of wanting to seek that type of sex again.
I resumed by barefoot journey on dampened roads. After school was out a carload of boys offered me a lift across the border into West Virginia. We climbed a hill and they let me out in front of a field full of rusty coal hauling equipment. They quickly headed off while I looked over the gear for any that might be large enough to offer me shelter from the damp and a place to lay down my bedroll. It was then I realized my sandals were not with me. I had left then with the carload of teenage boys. I wondered what lay ahead. Today’s journey had been a long strange trip but did not cover many miles. Two blond headed young girls approached me from across the road. They looked to be sisters if not twins. One chimed. “Our mama sent us over to get you. She wants to know if you need something to eat.” When I nodded, “Yes,” she sweetly commanded, “Come with us.” I followed them over to meet mama.
Brenda was straight forward and it did not seem I would get away without at least a meal. She did not explain herself but made it clear, I could get a meal and showed me a couch on the open porch that overlooked a creek running behind her house. “That’s where you can sleep. I saw you looking over those trucks. You don’t want to get caught over there. I got plenty of kids to help with chores, so don’t expect you have to do any dishes or anything else. You just eat some my chicken and taters, then get your rest. You look like you could use it.” She made it sound like I could not refuse. I did not. After a fine meal I enjoyed telling stories to some of the kids. I was not sure there were even all hers. There was no television only music, talk and laughter we made. Before going to sleep I noticed the effects of swollen creek. The limbs of trees held much debris and personal articles that most likely came from far upstream. I was amazed at the combination of simple poverty, open friendliness, and charitable spirit comfortably squatting next to a creek that could rise and wash it all away.


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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.