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 23, 2008

Still Burning Trash

During the oil boom of the early 1980’s, I moved to Louisiana and took advantage of the building construction surge. Several of us lived together in a rural setting outside Lafayette. This area bounds the Atchafalaya Basin which defines the western edge the Mississippi Delta. The landscape is decidedly flat and drainage ditches crisscross the area to remove rain runoff, dumping it into canals that head toward the delta swamp. The ditch next to our house looked blackened. This puzzled me. I next noticed that many stretches of ditches had similar look. It appeared that ditches caught on fire. After settling in, we discovered that garbage was not collected in this area and it was several miles to a collection point.
Convention established that trash was placed in the ditch and burned on a regular basis. Trash fires happened on a daily basis. We got used to smelling incendiary garbage. At first, we were not used to this custom and gathered our trash and hauled it away. It was burdensome and we also discovered the site where we hauled it also burned it. It just burned larger quantities. It seemed no matter what, our trash would be burned. We gave in and piled it in our ditch. About once a week we lit the pile and tended the fire. It pretty efficiently got rid of the bulk. To our advantage, we could dispose of all our work related garbage too. This added wood and other building materials to the pile.
Neighbors did not seem to mind the smells created. Everyone seemed used to breathing the fumes from all the various materials being turned to smoke and ash. Later on we discovered another local solution to solid waste management. When a rain occurred, the ditches would be swept clean of all remnants of fire. Whatever had not been lifted away as smoke or fly ash was washed down to join the murk in the Mississippi Basin. Our collective sensibilities about despoiling nature collided with local custom. More deep seated than our philosophy was the reality of living in a area that for years had collected the sediment of anything poured into the vast Mid American drainage stream.
When the scope of that system was considered, the small amount that we added seemed insignificant. We lived near the edge of a catch basin that gathered water from a wide ranging area. Rivers that flowed into the Mississippi sprang from places as far as Colorado, Montana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and traversed all the states in between. What ever was washed into the streams along the way, settled in our neighborhood. All along the coast and out in the swamp platforms were drilling deep into the earth to remove sedimentary ooze that had no doubt gathered and settled eons ago. Today’s workers were just as happy adding to that sedimentary collection that may provide future fuel. It appeared the mindset of this area condoned open burning. This area also is home base to the vast worldwide oil exploration empire, which make allowances for bringing fossil fuels from the bowels of the earth and burning them on the surface.
We did not stay long in this area. The boom tapered off and eventually our crew headed back to other parts of the country. I became more sensitive to the effects of burning. To help my process of coming to terms with the element of fire, I approached the native outlook of taking responsibilities for our actions and acknowledging our connection with our mother--the earth. To help ease the feelings of the harsh reality of how out of balance we were becoming with Mother Nature, I for a time turned to another type of fire that seemed to assuage these feelings. I began to consume large amounts of firewater.


No comments:

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.