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 26, 2008

Finding a new way to live. January,1976: Gainesville, FL

Being convinced that global earth changes were not eminent, I gave up waiting for tropical plants to sprout in New England and headed to Florida. Arriving in Gainesville, I sought out some of the folks I had met last year. I found Cathy right away, She took me to a house Gary and Linell were renting. In their one big room, Gary, Linell, Cathy, Don, and Alberto were camping out. I moved right in. Don and Alberto were from New York. All of us shared the notion that we did not want to work in a habitual way. We were not adverse to laboring but wanted for various reasons to live outside present culture. No one had a normal job although Cathy was a university student. Shortly we found a larger place where we could all live together comfortably. Outside Gainesville sat an abandoned farm. Bill had already taken possesion and invited others to join him there.
We settled on ten acres that had an old farmhouse, barn/garage, and an outdoor shower. Crawford volunteered to get our garden underway. Collectively we decided to name our commune “Free Spirit Farm.” We took in stray people and animals. Soon collections of outbuildings and vehicles became home to up to two dozen folks. There was so much coming and going it was difficult to tell who really resided there. One thing we held in common was our idea that the best way to fend off hot Florida weather was to shun clothing. We gardened, did housework and arts in crafts in a wide assortment of naked bodies. Since our community had contacts with the outside it was necessary that robes and pants were kept nearby to quickly don lest we offend the stranger.
Our first goal was to find a way to provide for our needs without resorting to taking regular jobs. Our needs were minimal since we paid no rent and needed only to cover food, utilities, and fuel for vehicles. We mostly scrounged small side work for cash or barter. Since we held all our money in common, we skipped keeping any tax records. If we were going to live beyond the reach of the beast those would not be needed. Occasionally we ventured out to perform small jobs lending a hand. Bill had car repair skills and we engaged in auto repair. Gail even went off to a regular job. Since we were free spirit, we let people who felt called to work a regular job go. Her income was appreciated. I even took a job at a structural steel firm. After witnessing two workers get severely injured, I comprehended another reason not to have a job and left.
Then we hatched the idea to hold the Free Spirit Arts and Crafts Fair. We spent several days fashioning assorted crafts from materials we could obtain for free. I gathered scrap cypress boards and made a few small spice cabinets. Other folks made assorted pieces of functional art. We made a large wooden sign for our commune and burned in the letters and a crescent moon and star logo. I doubt any of us realized we were borrowing the Muslim symbol. We made a large project of promoting our fair in hopes we would have a huge success and not have to go out for jobs. Our fair was a large success but not commercially. Lots of folks came, few items sold, and we attracted a lot of attention. We even managed to keep on our clothes. Though some folks were skeptical of our notion of free spirit as a life style, we widened our network of contacts that held like ideals of peaceful anarchism. The next set of stories will provide small vignettes of life at free spirit for both people and animals.


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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.