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

Monday, June 30, 2008

Let's go find a waterfall. July 1990, Martha's Vineyard, MA

Lenny contracted to carve a totem pole. A friend of his, a Native woman wanted one for her store. Lenny was Mic Mac and felt qualified both as native and artist to take on such a project. He had no gear, so asked to borrow my carving tools. I agreed, provided he used them at my place. He approved and we hauled a huge pine log and set it up under shade trees next to my shed. Hot temperaturees, high humidity and physical labor exhausted us. We slumped beneath the shade trees looking for relief. I mentioned, “ Wouldn’t it be nice to be sitting under a waterfall?” Lenny just said, “Yeah.” “Let’s go then,” I shot back. That settled it; we decided to go on a waterfall quest.
Lenny had briefly lived in North Carolina and recalled he knew the whereabouts of a fine place to search. We decided to head out. Over the next couple of days we gathered rudiments of camping gear. This meant we had to visit some friends and borrow. I had a tent and light weight sleeping bag but no other gear. Lenny was hard pressed to come up with much more than a back pack. We managed to scrounge up a camp stove, several cooking utensils, a cooler and camp ax. We told all our friends, we were headed to North Carolina in search of a waterfall. Good wishes would accompany us. Finally, with all our stuff loaded into my open pickup truck we boarded the ferry to leave Martha’s Vineyard. On our boat ride, I asked, “Have you ever been to the Canadian Rockies?” Lenny had not. “Let’s go there then,” Lenny agreed. We changed our plans midway to the mainland.
Since we had a three week window for travel, we decided that we should both take turns driving and try to drive straight there That way, we would have substantial time to search for our goal. I took the first shift and drove as far as Montreal. Lenny took the next shift around 3 AM. I tried to get some rest. It seemed Lenny had never driven on broad highways and was most uncomfortable going above 45 MPH. The whole of his driving experience was on Martha’s Vineyard where no speed is posted above that limit. Since his driving was making me uncomfortable, I was not able to get rest. We pulled over at a rest stop and got our needed sleep. After a couple of hours rest, mosquitoes having a blood feast for breakfast awoke me. We pressed on, with me taking all the driving.
It seemed we would be hard pressed to make it all the way to the Canadian Rockies, but we decided to make a game effort. By that afternoon, I managed to get past Sudbury Ontario and pulled into a parking lot near a market and tourist information booth. I got into the back and took a nap. Lenny explored around and when I awoke, he announced we were right at the gateway to Manitoulin Island where a large Native Pow Wow was occurring. We headed there. That night we stayed in a campground on the biggest island standing in fresh water in the world. We were quite far from North Carolina and the Canadian Rockies.


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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.