Our group photographed the Lukachukai Mountains; we were parked a little off the main road. Somewhat amazingly, a Navajo couple pulled off the highway to see if we needed help, and then invited us to photograph around their home, which was a combined ranch and tire repair shop.
Several members of an extended family made us feel at home, and one of the moms brought out her son, secured to a traditional Navajo cradle board.
What an unexpected treat! I've learned, after years of conducting small groups throughout the western U.S., to embrace the serendipitous encounter.
The wood from a Navajo cradleboard is reputedly made from the eastern side of a cedar or juniper tree unmarred by lightning. The head loop, bent like a rainbow, is supposed to keep the infant safe, while the backboard represents Mother Earth and Father Sky.
Babies are swaddled in cloth and held securely via ties of rawhide. Cradleboards keep infants safe until they are ready to crawl.