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.

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

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

Blue oak oak leaf, Round Valley

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.

A California buckeye prepares to shed its leaves.

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

The view from the summit of Round Valley at sunrise in early December.

The residue of bigleaf maples are strewn across 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 tarantula’s chief nemesis: the wasp known as the tarantula hawk. Los Vaqueros Watershed.

Valley oak leaf, Round Valley.

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

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

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

Autumn signals the return of clouds and welcome rain to Contra Costa County, California. Above: September sunrise on the Round Valley summit.

Milk thistle on the Nortonville Trail, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve.