Dried mud beds - Hassayampa Riverbed -
When the water moves with power through the sandy/muddy riverbeds, it looks like chocolate ribbons of smooth velvet mud pushing through the arroyos and riverbed. It creates a whole new landscape through the valleys and a saguaro that used to be on the left bank is now in a middle bank or even on the right bank because the desert riverbed is a living thing. While it usually runs underground where we can’t see it, and we only get to see the overt action of the flashflood or run-off that snakes back and forth season to season, year to year, it is still often alive and cooling the earth from the underground. The sands when dug up, can still provide a cool spot to lay in the shade or even pockets of pooled water that can be life-saving.
A bit later, after all the motion has dissipated to a slow trickle and eventually stagnation, the water bakes in the sun for a while and you get these pockets of curled mud that create intricate patterns.
My favorite time is when it is still wet and smooth as silk and the sun sparkles reflection off the mud, as if the light is still dancing off water.
But I have to admit the dried curled and baked mud is also intriguing.
We used to try to pick up or peel pieces of the mud off without breakage and see how much you could mange. We created a lot of games for ourselves interacting with nature.