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, July 11, 2008

On the road to Paris, 1990: Fontainebleau, France

The ride from southern France proved grueling for Joe, His complaints of headache were becoming constant and little besides sleep was comforting for him. We pressed on making several stops so he could nap. It seemed motion from travel induced more discomfort. By late afternoon we made Lyon and decided to seek medical help. A kind Doctor at l'Hôtel-Dieu agreed to have a look. Since Joe was not his patient and all his medical records were in the States, he could offer no treatment. However, he kindly provided us with a quantity of analgesic pain medications to alleviate Joe’s discomfort. Once we got Joe at ease, we pressed on toward Paris, a city he particularly wanted to visit.
It was late when we got to Fontainebleau and found reasonably priced, clean and spacious accommodations, a one hour train ride from Paris. As soon as we got settled, Joe called his doctor back home in Atlanta. Apparently he had been tested the day before leaving on our adventure. The results of those tests confirmed his opportunistic infection was fungal meningitis. We instinctively knew that the source of pain in his head was likely due to swelling caused by this infection. We were now most concerned with getting Joe on our return flight back to the states. We still had a couple of days before we were scheduled to leave. Since the pain medication was working, we figured we could more leisurely approach the return leg of our journey. After a day of rest, Joe felt like he could handle a day trip into Paris. For the next two days, we commuted to Paris and Joe got to enjoy many sites he longed to see. We even enjoyed the view from atop the Eiffel Tower.
Even these no stress excursions proved to take a toll. A day in the city would exhaust us. In particular, Joe would need to get back to our hotel for rest. He seemed to be practicing the tightrope walk he would be on as his illness progressed. His time increasingly looked like a balance between intolerable pain and bearable rest. Karen and I were learning to nurse him along until we could get him back home where he could receive medical treatment. His pain was intense enough that he could not hide it. I believed anyone looking at him could tell he was suffering and was concerned that we may be barred from boarding a transatlantic flight. Joe’s condition was bleeding over into our minds, as our thoughts became centered on getting him on a plane back to Atlanta. We discussed how to handle the possibility that we may have to extend our vacation until Joe could get medial clearance to fly.
As best we could, in the evenings while Joe was resting, Karen and I enjoyed the remnants of our European tour in a small town that for eight centuries provided retreat for royalty. Karen purchased for me a haircut. She even came into the hairdresser's salon to take a picture. One of the mementos of our vacation is a photo of me being pampered like royalty by having a gorgeous French woman run her fingers through my hair.


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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.