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, September 14, 2008

Fire: First memories

My first memory of fire was looking through a grate in our floor to an oil fired furnace that was beneath the kitchen in a crawl space. There was a small window in the top of the furnace that gave a view of the flames contained in the firebox. Living in the northern part of Lower Peninsula Michigan meant that our furnace was glowing most of the winter. Because of this I quickly learned what heat and hot meant. One time I left a small plastic toy on the grate. It slowly transformed into a small droopy truck. I did not like the results of heat.

Later I ventured out onto the grate in my bare feet. Quickly, I came to realize the painful sensation of a burn. Despite my parents’ warning about hot, I suppose I needed to find out for myself. Some time later, I began to incorporate hot into my vocabulary. At the dinner table I wanted to put mustard on my hot dog. My mother would not permit this. She explained that mustard was too hot for children. I immediately reached for the jar of mustard, got down from the table and placed in on the grate. The adults laughed but it did not bother me since I knew where hot things were to be placed. Since the grate never burned or melted. I felt the jar of mustard was safe there.

Next to our house was my dad’s shop. He was a builder of wooden boats. Since there was much scrap wood from the boats and fire logs were readily available he heated his shop with a large upright wood stove. I was small but the top of the stove was higher than me. On cold days, upon entering the shop, it was customary to remove your scarf, gloves and hat and hang them near the stove, so they would dry out and be warm when you had to leave. Since I was never in the shop but for brief periods, I do not remember removing my outer clothes and hanging them up. Instead I would crowd near the stove all bundled up and warm the only exposed part of my body—my face. Once I stood too near the stove and my wool scarf badly singed. Singed hair or fur has a remarkable acrid pungent smell that still tinges my olfactory memory.

Before we moved to Florida when I was six, fire was almost a constant in my life. Not only did it provide heat in the winter as evidenced by the flickering glow in the furnace window or the smell of smoke and the sight of the blast when the wood stove door was opened. There were also the sparks and smells emanating from outdoor grills and campfires, most notably on the summer holidays when it seemed everyone was doing their living outdoors. It seemed too that many adults would make a fire on a small stick and use it to light tobacco, either in rolled form or in pipes. Once lit they proceeded to breathe in the smoke and appeared to gain much satisfaction, before releasing their breath that still contained a small trace of the wispy vapor. In Florida, fire was no longer the primary source of heat, but began to take on other meaning.


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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.