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

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Chicken Man. November 1977, Saint Paul, Arkansas

In the middle of the Ozarks there was relatively little work. Most folks were sustenance types who eked out a living off the land. Besides lumbering there was little else that offered employment. There were several farms that raised chickens commercially. I was fortunate to find small work at one of them. Other than that the small tribe I lived with had little sources of income. Billie and Ed had moved from Florida to the Ozarks to seek retirement. They bought a working chicken farm to settle on. Shortly after moving in, Ed suffered a stroke. He recovered but lost the use of his arms. He could use eating utensils but lost the strength and dexterity to use other tools. Mentally he was unaffected. He needed a set of hands. That was my job.
My first tasks were to prepare the four buildings and their equipment to receive over sixty thousand hatchlings. These long structures would house the birds for about nine weeks until they became the size to be called Cornish Hens. For several days I followed Ed’s instructions and provided maintenance and repair.
Each building had a large feed hopper attached to it. Most likely the auger that feed food to a conveyer needed old compacted grain cleaned out of it so that it would be able to deliver fresh feed to the expected chickens. They would also need water, which meant small nozzles that feed a trough running around the shed’s perimeter would need cleaning. It seems the previous guests were messy and left the accommodations in not good order.
After all the mechanisms that provided food and water were put into working order, we needed to spread fresh straw on the floor throughout the sheds. It was no small task. The largest of these buildings were over five hundred feet long and thirty feet wide. Two were this size the remaining two were quite a bit smaller. Nonetheless, hauling a bale of straw, one at a time, in a wheelbarrow and spreading it out over all that floor space took up a whole day. The third day was spent making sure the rope and pulley systems that raised and lowered the canvas shades that covered the sides of the buildings were in working order and the canvas in good repair. A similar system that raised and lowered gas heaters needed also needed attending. After all these accommodations were in order we could await the arrival of a new batch of chickens.
During the three days, it took to accomplish this I got to enjoy Ed’s stories. He was able to talk about his adventures as a US Marine who survived the trauma of a forced retreat from the Inchon Reservoir during the Korean conflict. Ed’s wife, Billie would stay at the house preparing us the three meals per day it took to supply the nutrients to conduct our work. The rest of her time was spent glued to the television absorbing the continuous performance of Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker on their PTL Club. For Billie salvation meant a daily contribution of money or ordering of religious trinkets in support of their ministry. She also kept busy with the incoming and outgoing mail corresponding with the PTL Club. I wondered if the chickens who were due any day would understand the notion of salvation.


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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.