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, October 4, 2008

Cooking Without Fire

It was during the hot drought filled summer of 1978 that our garden vegetables cooked on the vine. Our only source of water was a deep well at a church down Boston mountain in the Arkansas Ozarks. With no means to water the garden, it wilted and what was left of the produce warmed, softened and fell to the ground. The only survivors were string beans and jalapeno peppers. We put up a few jars of hot pickled beans. Next we struggled to find some source of income to obtain food. Small work kept us just at survival level. One day while cleaning up the back yard, I turned over a pile of leaf mulch. Underneath was a mass of large earthworms. They looked to me like just the thing bait shops sold to fisherman.
I felt grateful for this windfall and made plans to gather a sizeable harvest and entertained, the prospect of driving down from the hills with a hefty shipment of worms. I even imagined becoming a night crawler baron as I counted out twelve hundred worms. At three dollars a dozen wholesale, I envisioned easy street as the next road I would be traveling. Nearby was an old bathtub. I placed my counted hoard into it and went down to a local mill to scrounge a load of sawdust mulch to bed them for the night. After tucking them in, I retired and figured at wholesale prices, I would gain a hundred fifty dollars the next day when I showed up at the fish camps just to the north in the Missouri Ozarks.
Upon awakening, I ventured to the tub and noticed some shriveled dried dark string looking things stuck to the rim. I thought that any escapees probably fried on the hot porcelain of the tub as they tried to leave their sawdust home. It did not seem I lost too many and I was still hopeful of a sizeable harvest. Digging into the sawdust to gather the remaining ones, I discovered it was unbearably hot in the middle of the pile, too hot even to run my fingers through it. Nary a worm survived my sawdust composting oven. Immediately I deflated, not only over the loss of income, but I suffered guilt that I was responsible for wiping out a whole colony of beneficial earthworms. I decided to abandon my fledgling empire and go back to seeking honest hard labor.
I had been introduced to my first lesson in spontaneous combustion. Composting materials can reach incredible temperatures at the core of their pile. As the moisture is driven off, sawdust can approach combustion temperature. The man at the lumber mill, told me that large piles of sawdust once ignited can smolder for long periods with out the slightest trace of smoke, but ready to bust into flame in the presence of a blast of air. He related that one time while moving a pile with a front end loader, it burst into flame as soon as he uncovered it. It was likely ignited by spark from his muffler and fed by sudden appearance of lots of air. I felt sorry about the worm’s fate, but gained respect for the heat generating properties of slow oxidation and its attendant risks.


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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.