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

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Chicken Man (Part two). November 1977, Saint Paul, Arkansas

Right after breakfast, a school bus arrived delivering chickens. The bus was loaded with racks containing covered boxes about the size that would hold an extra large pizza. Each container held fifty newly hatched chicks. Before breakfast I hand cranked a bank of gas heaters to about two feet from the ground. Under each heater eight boxes were unloaded. As soon as all two hundred chicks were present eight trays containing food and water surrounded them, Essentially they were contained in tight quarters under a heater and were so fresh, some still have remnants of shell stuck to their downy fur. Feathers were not developed yet. Before lunch sixty thousand birds were installed in their new quarters.
Ed showed me the procedure of welcoming new chicks to his farm. For the next two days, I hauled wheelbarrow loads of feed to their containers and kept them full. On each trip I also filled their water trays. On each go around I moved their food and water slightly away from their heaters and towards the perimeter of the building. Each morning, I raised their heaters a foot or two. In about four days, the heaters were at their regular height and if temperatures permitted could be turned off. By now all their food containers had been moved next to the food conveyer and watering system. One at a time, I removed their trays. By now all birds were getting used to getting their food and drink from a constantly running source. While carrying out this chore, I found the gruesome side of this business.
When I traveled about pushing the wheelbarrow full of feed, I attracted the attention of the hungry youngsters. They would rush me and I had to be careful to bring my load to a stop and deliver scoops to food to their trays. Once they got their food, they were less interested in my presence and dove into eat. However, in the process a few birds succumbed to errant foot steps or crushing wheels. I took as much pains as I could but could not avoid small accidents that were fatal to tiny creatures. Ed accepted this part of the business. He realized I was being careful and he inadvertently would step wrongly also.
We brought the carcasses to a six inch pipe that protruded from the ground on atop a mound in the field. Ed lifted off the cover of the tube and dispatched several bodies down the hole. He explained that a twenty thousand gallon tank was buried underfoot. According to his story it was not filled in over ten years, but contained the remains of all the chickens that did not make it to harvest. I was sickened by the thought of the sad end for these birds whether they made it to market or not. Next Ed showed me an active method to cull the flock. When a bird was lame or a runt, he preferred to get rid of it. He claimed it would just consume feed and not make it to market, thereby costing him. As an example he lifted up a bird with lame wing. He placed the head under his boot and yanked up on its feet. This technique quickly qualified the bird for a trip down the tube,. He expected me to follow his example. It was the end of our workday and I decided to sleep on it. I was not sure I could stomach a job that required I do in young chickens.


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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.