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, September 30, 2008

Firewood for Free

In my years of burning wood, I do not remember ever having to pay out money to obtain firewood. Sometimes it was completely free, other times I had to provide labor of some sort to get hold of it. Often I found the truth presented in the old adage, “firewood provides heat twice.” The first warmth comes when it is gathered, cut, split, stacked and then hauled indoors. Then it warms again when it is burned. This article will briefly explore the various ways that firewood came to me.
It was not until, I moved into a commune in rural Florida in the middle 1970’s that I had a stove that burned wood. Just before the first cold season arrived a truckload of wood was dropped off by the local electric utility. They were constantly clearing right of ways for electric lines to pass. Since not many people heated with wood, they most often dumped and buried tree trimmings to get rid of them. They were willing to drop wood off to anyone who requested it, provided it was not out of the way and on route between their cutting and dumping places. There were no choices and you had to accept what they brought. Our first load was a boon. It contained several sizeable limbs of dead oak that was well seasoned. The bulk however contained sizeable pieces of camphor tree. It seemed the whole tree was brought to us. Burning it provided the nose clearing scents that camphor is noted for and was a special treat to add to our fires.
After Florida, many of us moved to the Ozarks in Arkansas. This area is the timber capital of the Southwest. Much of the oaks were cut off in the early part of the twentieth century and now second growth was being harvested. Besides oak substantial stands of hickory and cherry were being felled. Logs were hauled to the mill and sizeable branches were left laying around. Landowners were glad to have a hand getting rid of this debris which contained sizeable pieces of firewood. Usually the parts being offered were not near roadways. This meant considerable efforts had to be expended getting them onto our vehicles. Normally, our crew would head into the forest with chainsaws and buck up large limbs into carrying size pieces. Once these were loaded up we took them back to our living sites. Here saw bucks, chopping blocks and wood stacks were worked on all through the year in order to have wood for both heating and cooking. Firewood came cheap but considerable effort gathering and preparing it.
After Arkansas, I moved to New England. Firewood was just as abundant but it was also much more desirable and had a larger demand. Winters were colder, and population greater. Wood was sold for a dear price. However, with ingenuity, it was available for the price of labor or trade. Land clearing, just like timbering resulted in large quantities of branch material. To have this cleared, folks were willing to let it be hauled away gratis. Other opportunities presented when part of the payment for firewood involved a work exchange to provide cutting, splitting and stacking services. This type of work was pleasant in cold season when work also heated and provided something to do when other outdoor opportunities were drying up. I felt especially grateful to have steady work exercise prospects.
Additionally, everywhere trees are susceptible to storm damage. When this occurs, owners not only welcome help clearing their property of debris, but are often willing to pay to have their wood hauled away. Sometimes large storms turn into blessing. Hurricane Bob wrecked havoc on the trees in southern New England in August 1991. Luckily flood damage was minimal, and property damage mostly confined to vegetation. I was fortunate to find considerable paid work clearing away remnants of this damage. As a bonus, I garnered over 12 cords of hardwood for future fires. By mid fall, I had this hauled home, stacked it up, ready to be split, brought indoors and used. This provided all our heat for the next four years.
I just moved to upstate New York and do not have a good woodstove for heat. My current residence has a fireplace that is more suitable for providing atmosphere than heat. It seems there is enough firewood around the neighborhood that can likely be obtained using my previous wood gathering techniques. This will also give me time to scout out the area finding other sources toward the day when I can again possess an efficient wood burning stove.


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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.