We know, in a remote recess of mind, that autumn is what we are: transitional creatures, always in the process of becoming something else. The static landscapes of summer and winter symbolize an existence of perpetual paradise or desolation. Is this the metaphor for humanity? No, we understand from experience that the transitional flow of autumn and spring – when before our eyes leaves fall and wildflowers blossom – is the metaphor for creatures in whom something is always dying; something else is always being born.

A trio of California buckeyes at sunset on Coyote Ridge, Round Valley Regional Preserve.

Cattle graze on frosty grass in Round Valley’s Murphy Meadow.

California wild grape in Mitchell Canyon, Mt. Diablo State Park.

A great blue heron patrols the orchards along the Marsh Creek Trail, Oakley.

California black oak in Murphy Meadow, Round Valley.

Mule deer, Point Lobos State Reserve.

Los Vaqueros Reservoir at sunrise, viewed from the Miwok Trail.

A California buckeye prepares to shed its leaves.

Autumn clouds blanket the peaks of Mt. Diablo, viewed from Marsh Creek Reservoir.

Fruiting bodies of chaparral clematis on Black Point Trail, Mt. Diablo State Park.

The view from the summit of Round Valley in mid-September.

Blue oak oak leaf, Round Valley.

The massive California buckeye I call Aesculus Rex at sunset, Round Valley.

The residue of bigleaf maples in Mitchell Creek, Mt. Diablo.

Blue oak at sunrise atop Round Valley

California everlasting on Black Point Trail, Mt. Diablo State Park.

A male tarantula in mating season inspects a burrow in the hope of hitting on some long-legged, eight-legged brunette. Murphy Meadow, Round Valley.

The chief nemesis of the tarantula: the wasp known as the tarantula hawk.

Valley oak leaf, Round Valley.

September sunrise on the Round Valley summit.

Milk thistle in autumn, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve.