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 31, 2008

It‘s getting cold. November 1976, Lansing, MI

After visiting Bonnie and Richard in Montreal, Cathy and I separated. She wanted to head to Florida and I to Michigan. She felt OK about hitching alone and I wanted to visit a cousin. We agreed to hook back up in Florida after the holidays. Right around the corner was Thanksgiving, which meant it was getting on into November. Nights were chilly but days still sunny and mild. Getting across Ontario was quick. I got to Lansing, Michigan after nightfall.
My bedroll consisted of a silk covered comforter and a heavy wool blanket. Laying these down together and rolling myself up inside provided a place that my body heat could keep warm on most frigid nights. At least that was my experience so far. It was around nine in the evening and I searched for a place to turn into a rollup for the night. A dark grassy hillside overlooking a closing mall and the highway seemed a likely spot.
The first few moments after getting into the roll required adjustment. I first stripped down to underwear to give my body heat direct exposure to my blankets. Next I had to give time for the blankets, the air trapped inside my roll and my skin to get to the same temperature. It usually took a few minutes to get warm, before I could drift off to sleep. Somewhere in the middle of the night. I was awaken by a chill. Probably cold air infiltrated my roll. It was not comfortable and rewrapping and trying to get back to sleep did not seem feasible. I glanced down to the closed mall. A bank had a lighted time/temp display. I found it was three thirty in the morning and eighteen degrees.
At times like these, I learned that walking provide warmth. I got into my outdoor clothes inside my roll, them wrapped my bedroll up and started hiking. Relatively soon a car provided a lift. Inside a heated car got me back to operating temperature. I was left out at ramp just before light somewhere in the middle of no where. There was a small diner nearby but was not yet open. The gathering light exposed a thin snow covering. It appeared coldness was on the menu. Nearby was a small section of woods. A fire seemed called for. I walked in far enough that smoke from a small blaze would not be noticed. Next I se about gathering small twigs and sticks.
With a slight snow covering finding dry tender seemed difficult. I had a nice selection of kindling but with no paper and only three matches needed something that would light and sustain it self until the wood was hot enough to ignite. Searching around I found underneath tree boughs a supply of pine needles that were not wet. It took all three matches before I was able to light enough needles that they sustained flame. By bending over my fledgling fire and providing a breath bellows, I was able to get some wood afire. Soon I had a source of heat to warm and dry myself and socks which had gotten wet on my hike into the woods and search for fuel. By the time the sun was fully up and the diner open, I was warmed and smelled of wood fire. Letting my fire go out, I strode over to get a cup of coffee, probably not smelling much different that folks that got warmed by wood fires indoors.


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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.