Streambed, Coyote Gulch, Utah
I once happened upon a curiosity which I have been unable to explain to this day. I have long been known for loving mud. Actually, what I love are the patterns and reflections that I find in the beds of rivers and streams, where the water has formed a rippling surface of sediment. The central basin of the Colorado excels with such muds, actually made of very fine sands. On one knapsack trip in 1985, I came upon a delightfully promising scene. I quickly began to create a composition consisting mainly of the streambed I had been walking up, but while looking at the dim and inverted image on the groundglass of the camera, I noticed that the patterns had mostly vanished. Standing up, I saw that the stream flow had increased, and the patterns that I had enjoyed were mostly inundated and no longer of artistic interest. I began to put the gear away to continue hiking, but when I glanced back at the stream I saw the patterns begin to re-appear. Out came the camera again. I discovered that each twelve minutes the stream would cycle up and down, approximately doubling then halving its flow. I watched it complete five cycles, and made several variations of the image at different water heights. No wind blew either up- or down-canyon. No gushing spring existed upstream with its own mysterious cycle. No earthquake in progress. No cyclical, local shifting of the force of gravity. No way to explain it.