La Minerve, Upper Laurentians, Quebec, 1999. Residency, THE HIDDEN STONE, produced by Boréal Art/Nature.

Arranged in a circle, seven black adult-size cradles are suspended from trees with rope. Beside each one is a black wooden chair. On the tree in the centre of the circle are a dozen beaded pouches hanging on the trunk.

Diameter of circle approx. 12m.

Pouches created by artist Magali Lara.

They're in an oval clearing at the foot of a long stone ridge arching through the forest - seven cradles, black and adult size, anchored to the trees. Like life-boats they sway in the wind, a backless black chair beside each. Faint memories of beginnings stir. A protective intimacy. An opportunity to be watchful, to be caring, to be close.

  Girdered with root and bark
I am cradled in the dark that wombed me *

The stone façade pulled on me, its dark hollows and crevices overflowing with aged secrets. An ancient thrust of land shaped by glaciers, now veiled in humus, moss, and a dense weaving of fallen tree trunks and branches. A place where 'mythic' and 'natural' overlap... removed some of the dead wood. Magali came, and we heaped the brush in long low curves forming a nesting-ground, a refuge, possibly a lair.

       I cannot be weaned
Off the earth's long contour, her river-veins,
  Down here in my cave *

Under the tree in the center of our clearing, we'd sit silently observing the strata in the stone wall, the dark earthy shapes of the cradles, the movement of the forest, the stillness of the chairs. Magali left, and returned three days later with prayer bags — black velvet pods with red-beaded markings. We hung them on the tree. In Mexico, she said, there is a sacred tree where people hang bags, each one containing an umbilical cord. These ones hold the inner stone.

Any point in that wood
Was a center *

At certain moments, sunrays illuminate the cradles. Poplar leaves and spruce needles fall into them. Snow weighs them down. Moonlight converses with them. Rain soaks through. I move from cradle to chair, from chair to cradle ...