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

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

That was quick. June, 1975: Baltimore, MD

I awoke to a world that was at least as damp as the one I put to bed. But it was a warm wetness. It probably wouldn’t be uncomfortable walking in the hills barefooted. It was not only the steady drizzle that made me feel like it’s time to head out of the mountains toward the coast. I was feeling the urge to visit my folks and I felt more trips to a bootlegger might slow me down considerably. Brenda finished her gracious hospitality with bacon, grits, biscuits, gravy and coffee. She let me help clean up after myself and wished me well as I walked away on slick roads. It was not a long hike before I was scooped up by Mark and Paul. They were headed to Logan and spent the whole trip sharing their angry story.
Both were Viet Nam veterans and claimed they only wished some Vietnamese would move nearby. They stated a desire to murder any that they could find. If only they lived near Galveston Texas they would have that chance. Some Army buddies of theirs told them plenty of Vietnamese were now fishing Gulf waters. On the way we stopped at their shop tool shed. There Mark fished out a revolver from his toolbox. He proudly displayed the tool he would use to eliminate any Vietnamese who ventured into his hometown. He told me, “It don’t matter, all them gooks are Viet Cong. I’ll kill them over here just like I did over there.” What could I say, “Nothing.” I wondered why this display and why me. But in my travels it was not uncommon for males to want to show off their weapons. It seemed to have psycho-sexual overtones. Or were they just trying to rattle my pacifist nature? Besides having a stated intent to engage in homicide, both Mark and Paul were pleasant folks and they did give ride to a stranger. Next they offered me a ride downtown so I could see Logan’s Farmer’s Market. Mark assured me there would be an array of fresh goods to eat.
I was dropped off amidst the bustle of Saturday morning Market that seemed to leak over onto side streets from Main and Stratton streets. Mark was correct; there was an abundance of fresh picked and baked goods to choose from. My only problem was I had no cash. Farmer’s Markets seem to not be good places to beg or panhandle and most vendors looked like they had enough hands. So not having opportunity to eat, I walked out of town hoping to get a ride out of the mountains. Wow, did I get one. I climbed into the backseat of a late model Thunderbird.
My driver was Cheryl, her boyfriend, Wayne rode shotgun. Cheryl gunned the engine and we were off to Baltimore. She drove much like the ride I got yesterday morning--too fast for conditions and occasionally drifting across the center line. The only difference was yesterday’s driver was a local and knew the roads. Cheryl looked much younger and learned to drive in Baltimore. In between gasps for air, I got her story. Her aunt had left this car and Cheryl just the day previous passed her road test and obtained her license to operate. I do not know how. I tired minor interventions like, “ Did they teach you to drive this fast.” She would only nod her head and say, “ Yup.” Wayne, seemed to agree and wore the look that trying to change her would be of no avail. I just held on. It took less than forty five minutes to cover the forty five or so miles until we hit the Interstate. We shot up the ramp then Cheryl brought the Thunderbird up to speed. We had a short run south on I-77 before we could head north on I-81. At no time did we travel less that 100 MPH. Traffic was light, so Cheryl would just zoom around or weave through it. Even though it was unnerving for both Wayne and I, Cheryl did handle the car expertly. Perhaps there was some NASCAR genes in her pool.
We were able to almost eclipse Virginia before one of her finest pulled us to the side of the road. A State Trooper approached the driver’s window and Cheryl piped, “ Did I do something wrong, Officer?” She acted demure but there was an honesty in her question and perhaps she thought her driving normal. The Officer was decent and explained patiently the meaning of speed limit signs. He offered her a ticket and informed her since Maryland and Virginia had reciprocal agreements, he would not have to haul us to jail. She could pay her fine through the mail unless she wanted to contest it . He also offered it would not be not be worthwhile to argue a 110 MPH speeding ticket. We proceeded onward to Baltimore at just slightly above the speed limit. When we got home, Wayne offered me a place to stay at his mother’s house. He also try to convince me to get a job and stay around. Perhaps he liked the way I didn’t try to handle Cheryl.


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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.