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 2, 2008

Riding on the edge. May, 1975: Cumberland, KY

I broke camp with Jack and Jill early, before sunrise. Since we were headed in different directions, we bid our farewells. I got a lift with a park ranger who deposited me on the highway outside the park. Before I got out he warned me, “I cannot see why you would hitchhike through here. This place is worse than Redneck Alabama. It’s like Bible Belt mixed with Devil’s Belt.” I did not ask him where he was from, but thanked him for the lift and got out. I was not concerned but figured to be wary. I enjoyed a lengthy walk before Earl stopped and offered me a ride. He was going to the bootlegger’s and did not mind showing me where that was. I suppose I did not look like a revenue agent. We followed a dirt road quite away uphill. Occasionally, it would offer an incredible vista of the surrounding area. Earl was quite proud of his home and often would stop so he could point out landmarks and we could soak in the scenery.
Finally we managed our way to the peak. At the top a solitary ranch style house sat in a field with a commanding view in all directions. A driveway circled the house. We followed it around back. There the driveway went right next to the house and up to a window that sported a built in counter. It looked much like any fast food drive in establishment. Once we pulled up, I could see inside was a large room filled with refrigerators and coolers. A man there quickly filled Earl’s order for a case of beer. I was surprised that even bootleggers offered modern conveniences like drive thru service. We pulled away just like normal shoppers leaving a legal mart. Earl offered me no beer, maybe since it was still morning. We slowly descended the same road we followed up and I was let off at the highway as Earl made hi way back in the other direction. With not much traffic, it felt like a good time to have a hike.
Sometime later I ran into Larry. He did not have a car but approached me on foot. He quickly made an offer to come to his house and have a beer. As he explained, “I got some beers to drink, but I’m all alone sitting in my basement, and that’s no fun. So if you want, I got a case and you can have a few and we can listen to music.” A few beers in a cool basement on a day that was getting too warm for much more enjoyable walking seemed like a nice idea. Since Larry seemed harmless, I accepted. We spent a good part of the afternoon sucking in dingy air and dank beer. It was obvious Larry had a considerable head start on me in consuming beer. It also was apparent that he spent much time in this activity and probably was depressed. I got to listen to quite a litany of complaints about the negative life style he had. As his guest, I just listened. Then he relayed a disturbing piece of information that perhaps answered why I was invited to share in his gloom.
Larry had lifted a case of beer that belonged to his uncle. It was hidden and kept cold in the creek behind the house. In dry counties where bootleggers are in business, cold creeks often act as refrigerators. The problem was that his uncle was due to return today. Larry feared that if his uncle came home and found his beer gone, he would be irate. And, if he found evidence Larry was culprit, he may turn homicidal. Larry needed help getting rid of the evidence. Luckily, since Larry began his crime the previous day, we did not have much work to do to dispose of the rest. Quickly we finished our task, got rid of the empties and walked up to a roadside café for a hamburger. While waiting around a buddy of Larry’s summoned him, “Come here Larry, I want to show you my new revolver and show you how it works.” Larry turned down the request. It was reiterated, “Come on, you’re going die some day and I only want to help you get where your going. It’s only the Christian thing to do.” It may have sounded funny, but contained a veiled threat that I would not accept either.
We returned to Larry’s and he settled in for a night of watching television. I did not like the taste of our encounter at the café, and the threat of an irate uncle appearing, made me feel like continuing my hike. Larry seemed sad, I would not stay for the evening. Larry seemed sad anyway, so I stuck with my plan to leave. It was only a short walk out of town to a nice field that offered peaceful; sleeping accommodations once I unfurled my bedroll.


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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.