I'm not sure how it happened, because autumn is my favorite season, but I must have missed the fall in Davis last year. I didn't even notice it. It may be because I had just moved here, or because the rain started very early, who knows. But it has come to Davis again, like clockwork (funny how the seasons work like that), and this time I'm enjoying it to its fullest.
I went out to Stebbins Cold Canyon this morning for a hike and a class on botanical drawing. The canyon is part of the UC Davis Reserve System; it's owned by the University, and used as a site for research and plant collection. It also serves as a public hiking destination. I visited it last spring as well, with my California Floristics class.
Epilobium canum - native California fuchsia
This guy (above) was one of the only flowering plants still going in late October, the native fuchsia. It was beautiful, with it's bright salmon flowers and sage green foliage that turned magenta as it aged (sorry, I was too short-sighted to take a picture of the leaves).
Vitis californica - California wild grape
There was a surprising amount of color in the plant foliage too. These grape leaves were just glowing in the sun. The grape leaves gave the most color to the landscape, all yellows and red and browns. But if you looked closely you could also see splashes of color in the details too, like this bizarre oak gall.
insect gall on a Quercus wislizeni - interior live oak
There was some really interesting architecture to the landscape too, mostly due to deciduous trees that had lost their leaves. Here is a California buckeye, which is drought deciduous (loses its leaves in summer). Check out those buckeyes hanging off of the bare branches like little Christmas balls on a Charlie Brown tree.
Aesculus californica - California buckeye in fruit
And where would an outdoorsy post be on e.r.r.a.n.t. without a picture of lichen on a rock?
Finally, onto some of the art. We hiked for about an hour and a half, stopping to talk and sketch along the way. Here is one of my favorite sketches. First the photo of the plant, a redbud tree, Cercis occidentalis. The bright reddish-brown pods and yellowing leaves represented a large part of the color-change in the canyon, alongside the wild grape vines.
And now my drawing. I'm pretty proud of it, it was my first sketch of the day.
Today was one of those really windy fall days, where the light is slanting, and the wind whips the trees around so the light flickers on the ground. So how did I miss all of the beautiful color changes and weather changes of Davis' autumn last year? It might be because the changes are subtle. I'm more prepared at this moment to notice the subtle changes in my life and surroundings than I was last year, when everything in my life had been turned upside down. Well, that's one theory.