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

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Doing Roosters. May 1978, Pettigrew, Arkansas

It was more than a month since my rooster’s brethren were carted off to be processed into food. Mine were by now nearly twice the size of those who were harvested. Not only were they larger but quite a bit more feisty. Likely they were starting to release sex hormones and engage in the kinds of activity that chemical releases. Even though they had acres of woods in which to roam and carry on, they seemed to prefer conducting their shenanigans close to the house. They were loud and created quite a mess. It did not take me long to remember they were destined for the dinner table.
It came to me that if these birds were headed to the dinner table they must somehow meet a similar fate as their brothers. I reckoned that by being the person responsible for them, it put the onus on me to make the arrangements for doing them in and butchering. I had yet to kill an animal intentionally, but had ordered birds deaths by purchasing live chickens from a butcher. I felt called for to assume responsibly for carrying out their sentences since they were in my charge. I asked around for advice from those with experience. I was told that tying the birds feet together before slaughtering them made it easier to handle them and also provided a means to hang them upside down and bleed after their heads were removed. I was also told that since I had only ten birds, it would be trouble-free if I gathered them before they awoke and kept them confined in a large cardboard box.
Long before sunrise, I awoke and went to the coop with a large cardboard box. It was quiet and my roosters hardly were disturbed as I planted them one at a time in the dark confines and closed the lid after the last one had been placed inside. I left the box in the quiet of the coop and went back into the house, prepared a pot of coffee and began a lengthy meditation concerning the deed I was about to perform. It was a bright morning and looking like a fairly fine day to begin my initiation into killing. I gathered a sharp axhatchet to perform beheading, prepared a clean table covered with paper to conduct butchering and ringed a tree with nails for a place to hang fresh killed birds. When all was ready, I fetched the box of roosters and brought them near the chopping block.
To bind their legs, I had prepared ten lengths of cord and had tucked them in my pants waist for easy access. My plan was to reach in the box, grab one at a time, bind his legs, carry him over to the chopping block and dispatch him into the realm of chicken dinner. Somehow they got the gist of what was up and as soon as I slightly opened the box, two managed to fly up, get past me and leave the top wide open for the others to make an escape. Soon all ten were loose in the woods. Chasing was futile and they tended to stay far away from me for the day. I felt a bitter sweetness. I suffered frustration about the mess I had caused and felt empathy for the roosters who escaped sensing they were about to meet some unsavory event. On the other hand, I experienced relief that I had been spared the job of being their executioner. By nightfall, all was peace and they returned to their coop to roost. Their fate waited another day.


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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.