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 4, 2008

We just got back. August, 1990, Grand Marais, MN

By morning, the tranquil lake we set camp next to turned into a raging sea. The crashing of waves woke us in time to avoid getting out tent and gear soaked. A strong wind westerly wind pushed waves onto our eastern shore. We quickly saw an example of Gichigami’s reputation for downing seafarers. Anyone caught out in a small craft thinking they were headed for a peaceful fishing expedition would soon find themselves battling for survival. Even as recorded in Gordon Lightfoot’s song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” a large freighter can quickly be swallowed by these veracious waters. We broke camp and headed up the road with an intention to visit Agawa Rock. This we heard was the site of famous cliff paintings done by an Ojibwa shaman.
When we got there huge seas were still crashing into the base of Agawa Rock sending spray to the height of the cliffs. From our vantage point we could see that the only way to have painted these famous pictographs would be by being suspended from above. We could just imagine a priest dangling over the prepuce to render images of his spirituality that could only be viewed by those out to sea. Lore has it they were drawn executed so the Spirit residing on Lake Superior would bless those traveling upon its waters. Although we were not out upon the waters we felt fortunate that the seas woke with their crashing and thumping before setting upon us. We offered a prayer of gratitude to be observing its boiling waters from a safe and dry vantage. It was still early morning when we decided to press on still not certain if we were traveling all the way to the Rockies.
When we stopped at Terrace Bay for lunch we discovered an answer to our question of where we were headed. After eating, Lenny discovered that his wallet was missing. It contained no money, so that was not an issue. What he was missing was his driver’s license, his only means of identification should it be required to reenter the United States. We decided to renter soon. Our reasoning is that should we be held up, we would rather experience it when we were not pressed for time. I hope to get back to Martha’s Vineyard for my daughter’s birthday--August 21, less than ten days away. Lenny wanted to get back also so he could get to work on his carving project. We both envisioned be held up at a border crossing way out west. We figured if that was to be our fate, let’s get it over with. We decided to cross back into the United States along the boundary waters of Minnesota.
South of Thunder bay we approached the border on a highway that continued our encirclement of Lake Superior. The crossing checkpoint was small, evidently not having to handle lots of traffic. We pulled up expecting to be asked to produce evidence of citizenship and then having to be subjected to an investigation to prove Lenny was a native born Native. The guard asked us our nationality. We both quickly responded, “American.” After answering few questions about the length of our visit to Canada and our purchases while there, we were waved through. We pulled away breathing a sigh of relief that we got away with our criminal act of crossing without ID. To celebrate, we treated ourselves to a motel room with hot showers in Grand Marais, Minnesota. We also decided that our new travel plan was to completely circumnavigate Lake Superior till we got back to Sault Sainte Marie.


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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.