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

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The storm is over. August, 1991: Martha's Vineyard, MA

In the light of day, the extent of tree damage wrought by Hurricane Bob became apparent. I drove around and witnessed stands of trees that were felled. In some spots there were patches of at least an acre where no tree was left unscathed. I felt a tinge of sadness that so many were damaged. At the same time I felt gratitude for the windfall. I heated with firewood and it seemed an abundance was available for the taking. Having a few days before I had to get back to Atlanta, I fetched my chainsaw hoping to get to work gathering. A snag developed when I realized my chainsaw needed tuning up. In a rush to get it running, I managed to destroy the carburetor. I threw the worthless piece of junk into the back of my pickup and angrily headed into Edgartown.
There, I ran into a group of folks and shared my predicament. I left the chainsaw in the back of my truck and expressed the hope someone would snatch it. The idea that a thief could steal my problem brought me some sense of light. Preston asked if I would like a job clearing fallen tress from his property. He stated that he went out that morning and bought a new chainsaw, but upon starting it realized he was in fear of using it. He offered to give me his new saw and pay an hourly wage if I would cut up and remove his debris . He then asked, “Do you have any one who can help you with the hauling.” Standing behind him, I noticed my friend Lenny.
Lenny sported the telltale handkerchief around his neck hiding the hole left from surgery to remove his larynx. Apparently while I was away he received treatment for his cancer. I asked, “Do you feel up to helping me load and haul branches.” He beamed and nodded in the affirmative. We had a deal. I got a new saw and we both could earn some cash. To top it off, I would now be able to gather loads of firewood. We got in my pickup and headed off to another adventure. For the time, we got used to Lenny using a device that supplied vibration to his voice box so he could speak. His messages got garbled. It seemed he was trying to annunciate whole sentences instead of single words at a time. At one point he kept reiterating a sentence that sounded like, “There are elephants in the subway.” I would look at him and repeat what I just thought I heard. Lenny would shake his head and say again the same phrase. I could not get him to slow down and give it to me a word at a time. It seemed we battled back and forth while we filled the pickup with our first load of branches.
With our truck full, we headed off to a field where there was a gathering of branches that would eventually be chipped. On the way we stopped for coffee. Lenny somehow imparted that was the phrase he was trying to get across to me. There were no elephants in the subway, he only wanted a break. It took us all day to clear out Preston’s fallen pines. We finished up thankful to have a new saw and some cash. Preston also offered us more work on another property he had. Lenny was exhausted and left me to work by myself. That was OK and I spent the next few days cutting and gathering wood. All told, by the time I headed back to Atlanta, I put up over eight cords of firewood and a shed full of exotic species to be milled later for woodworking. I left Lenny behind. He was scheduled to begin radiological treatment for his cancer. He seemed hopeful and positive his prognosis was good. In the meantime, I heard from Joe., He was not doing well. It seemed his trip to Denver exhausted him and took him away from his treatments that likely were necessary to keep him healthy. I wrapped up my wood gathering exploits and headed to Atlanta.


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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.