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, October 7, 2008

Where There is Smoke…

It was in May when I traveled with Natalie from the East Coast to Montana. She was enrolled in Rocky Mountain School of Photography. I went with her as company and driver. She had never this distance solo and I felt more comfortable accompanying her. It afforded us opportunity to explore the vast northern plains of the US, an area virgin to both of us. As we approached the mountains in Wyoming, we witnessed blackened areas that spoke of forest fires. Lore told that lightening strikes were responsible for most of the charred areas we came across.
On the way we ventured into Yellowstone Park. There was evidence that a large fire burned right to the edge of Yellowstone Lodge and hot springs field that was home to Old Faithful. Folks there described how they fought the flames and kept their structures wetted down and despite all their efforts it still seemed only good fortune spared them. The fire had occurred two years previous and undergrowth was only beginning to show green with the approach of summer. All along our journey to Missoula we witnessed huge tracts of forest punctuated sparsely with blackened bare spots.
We arrived in Missoula late afternoon and after finding Natalie’s school checked into a motel. Natalie laid done for a nap while I sat at the door looking at brewing thunderstorms. It began with a sudden pelting of the largest hail I ever saw. Off in the distance sparks of lightening leaped to the ground. One large strike grabbed my attention. It was not a quick burst but a lasting discharge of electrical energy to the earth. It lasted long enough for me to shout to Natalie, “Come here, you got to see this.” It ended before she got to the door, but in my opinion set a personal record for lightening strike duration. Before night fell the storm abated and it turned to a peaceful evening.
The morning was bright, clear, and perfect weather for a hike. The southern boundary of University of Montana campus abuts a sizeable mountain with a large letter “M” marked out on its northern slope. There are hiking trails ascending this peak and we decided to go on a trek. We began heading south to where a trail snaked up the eastern slope. Our walk began in the woods and as it climbed offered brief glimpses of our destination--the peak. At one spot I noticed a bit of smoke coming off the mountain. We surmised that we were witnessing the after effects of a strike from the previous night. It was not a large blaze and in fact we could see not flames. But as we continued the smoking area would come and go from view. Finally, we pulled near enough to determine that whatever was smoking was several feet below our path. Still we saw no flames. Eventually we stood at a spot about a hundred feet above the source of smoke. It was an easy scramble down to investigate its source. When we go there, we saw a stump that had been cleaved into two distinct sections, no doubt the effect of a strike. Smoke was pouring from the ground from what were obviously the burning roots. Since all the combustibles were underground, the flames went unnoticed. But apparently enough oxygen could seep through the cracked ground d to feed the fire. We climbed back to our trail and continued our upward hike.
Not to much farther along we met three youngsters headed down the trail. They were shouldering shovels, picks and a water tank fire extinguisher. They told us they were college students at work for the US Forest Service. They had been dropped on the peak so they could carry their load down hill to extinguish the fire we had passed. Fighting fires and being dropped off above them was the bulk of their summer jobs. They expressed gratitude for the helicopters that lifted them to the top. If they had to carry all their gear up the mountain, the fire they came to fight would have likely went out or escaped.


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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.