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

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Turning roosters into hens. March 1978, Saint Paul, Arkansas

I wasn’t there the night a team came and picked up the just less than sixty thousand roosters Ed raised as Cornish Hens. But I was there shortly after the truck load of chickens bounced down Ed and Billie’s clay dirt driveway headed to a processing plant in Springdale, Arkansas. Ed’s Australian sheepdog was doing an amazing job of rounding up the strays that escaped during the gathering. I joined the crew that had come to conduct this collection at a large breakfast Billie prepared for their workers. The story told about how all these birds were collected in short order entertained our meal gathering.
It began in the dark of night when this team scattered throughout the five chicken sheds and replaced light bulbs with ones of blue color. Before now, white lights burned constantly, tricking these chickens into thinking it was daytime, the time to be awake, eat and drink. Immediately the chickens were in the dark for the first time in their short lives. Apparently they cannot see the blue color range and took it to be night at last and just as quickly fell into their first good sleep. This made it easy for the crews to round up sleeping birds, stuff them into small cages and haul them out the now open shed doors and stack them onto a flatbed trailer.
The efficiency of this roundup was attested to by the fact that the sheepdog was only able to capture seven who managed to awaken in the commotion and escape. Rumor held that, this sheepdog was so proficient at his job gathering and gently returning runaways that if he returned seven, that was likely all that escaped. Before the end of our breakfast one of the hands related the story of what fate would be dealt to the chickens he just helped gather. Besides harvesting, this crew also worked at the processing plant. Some would join at that job later in the day.
As soon as our truckload of roosters arrived at the plant, a crew would begin unloading the crates of chickens. Quick hands would now snatch the awakened birds and hook their feet into a small claws that hung from an overhead conveyer. From here they would be slowly drawn into a gleaming stainless steel machine. There was no view of inside, but when they emerged from the other end, these chickens had no feathers nor heads. After being mechanically separated from their feet, the plump bodies would fall onto a large stainless steel table. Surrounding this table several workers with sharp knifes would quickly remove viscera and slide the bodies down to a conveyor. Here inspectors would cull any bird that showed evidence of tumors. These would have their growths cut away, discarded and the remains put into large stainless barrels. Rumor had the content of these barrels going across the street to another factory and made into Chicken Noodle soup. Chickens who made it whole past this point became wrapped, labeled Cornish Hens and headed to a freezer.
I felt grateful to have been relieved of my duties helping raise chickens commercially. The rest of my work for Ed and Billie consisted of preparing a spot in the woods for a log cabin that would house Billie’s dad. I was to confine my chicken raising to the birds I was able to rescue from the mill.


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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.