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, July 2, 2008

Rubbing with the natives, August 1990: Manitoulin Island, ON

We had found our spot on Manitoulin for a while. Both Lenny and I wanted to steep in native culture that was widespread there. Unlike the United States, there is no reservation system in Canada. First Nation people are free to congregate in communities of their choosing. On Manitoulin, several different groups lived in separate communities. We visited them all but were especially attracted to one.
In M’ Chigeeng, Chief Raymond invited us to his home. His wife made wonderful fish stew and Raymond entertained with local lore. He was an engaging speaker and held our attention better than any media could have. He also used his speaking ability touring the United States and Canada lecturing youngsters about substance abuse and how it effected lives whether native or not. He held our rapt interest telling how alcohol and drugs had ravished his life and community.
At his home, we met Nancy, a white woman,who several years earlier had visited a far northern outpost-- Moose Factory. She was so taken by its pristine beauty and isolation, she quit her administrative job in the insurance industry and landed work as a cultural liaison with First Nation in Moose Factory. That was four years earlier. Nancy was taking a sabbatical from her work and vist her native culture now with a different prospective. She told me tales of her initiation into native ways and showed me tokens that symbolized her journey. I had long wanted to find sweet grass and gather it from the wild. Nancy told me it grew locally and was tall enough to be harvested. She next offered to take me out to gather some. She showed me the plant and how it must be addressed and asked to offer some of itself to be used by its human brothers. We next made a ritual offering of tobacco as a token to the spirit of the plant we were taking. Nancy then showed me the method of weaving our stalks into a braid. Before we parted, she gave me a necklace she fashioned with porcupine quills.
Lenny spent the day rubbing shoulders with local artists at a gallery that featured local and far flung prominent First Nation artists and their work.. Our trip began when Lenny took on a commission to produce a native sculpture. Here he got to meet and talk with prominent artists who portrayed native themes mostly with an animal subject. We ended up our day at a music and beefier concert at Little Current. Next to here is located the bridge from Manitoulin Island back to Turtle Island. We reminisced how only through chance, we had found our way here, suspended our goal of traveling to the Canadian Rockies, and found a waterfall. It seemed time to press on. We would head west and determine whether or not we would hold to our original goal or come up with a new one.


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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.