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

Friday, June 6, 2008

A homecoming respite. June, 1975: Vineyard Haven, MA

I was now intent upon calling on my parents who had moved to Martha’s Vineyard, while I was living in Canada. I had not visited there. On the way, I stopped to see some folks I met early in this journey at Grassy Key, Florida. They were part of a special time when it seemed Paradise was upon us. They left before it got dismantled. I was interested in stopping for a visit and make out if any remnants survived. Jennifer had given me her address. It was right on my path, so I dropped by for a stopover. The only resemblance to Grassy Key and her home, Woodmont on the Sound, Conneticutt was they both had beaches. Except for the small area surrounding her house little of the spirit of sharing and caring for one another was present. But enough of a remnant clung to us, that I perceived a sense we would not only survive but thrive.
By now, I was light on possessions, be it money or medicine. I had long ago used up mushrooms I carried from Florida. I had no way of knowing that between my parent’s house and I lay a ferry boat. I also did not realize that the ferryman would require paid fare before I could gain passage. One of Jennifer’s neighbors wandered over looking for some help moving house. Terry and I volunteered and after spending about a half a day loading a moving van were rewarded with some small cash. Terry found a way to turn some of our booty into cannabis which we shared. I was able to head off toward the ferry with resources to pay the ferryman and a small taste of pot should anyone need it.
It was late afternoon when I walked up to my parent’s house. Draped over the deck railing was a banner proclaiming, “Welcome Home Rob.” By its worn expression and saggy look, it had likely been hanging a long while awaiting my return. It was possible my mom did not realize the slow pace of my journey and hoped I would come over as soon as I returned to this country. This was one of the many adjustments we had to make over the next week or so while I took a light break from my pilgrimage. Both parents were not expecting their son to show up barefooted, broke, homeless, and with no intention to change that affectation. My dad quickly laid down his rule. “You can stay three weeks, by then you need to get a haircut and a job,” he said. Mom colluded; she was just glad to see me.
I intuited that a discussion about my goal to not have a job would be fruitless. I also decided to not waste my time trying to convince him to give up his. We were on different beams and that was OK. The haircut was not important, but since I was probably going to get the boot because of my lack of job stance, I decided to hold on to my ponytail. In the brief time sojourning on Martha’s Vineyard I found none of the spirit I was seeking. Instead of that sharing caring atmosphere was one that felt like a band of service workers awaiting the landing of wealthy hoards that could be relieved of their money. There was a feeling of Robin Hood in the air, but not one that would care for the stranger. I felt I would not be staying the full term of my Dad’s ultimatum. Shortly before I left, my dad offered me a pair of old sneakers to replace my bare feet. I took the sneakers and left my bare feet for my next visit. My mom handed me a ticket to give the ferryman and another to be used for a return. I headed toward the setting sun.


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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.