In the mind’s eye, the image of fall for many people is peak, abundant colors — leaves on fire under the sun’s soft light. That is the canvas that fills up Instagram feeds and excites crowds year after year to cut out across Minnesota and beyond.

But we’re not done with fall. Or, rather, fall isn’t through with us.

There is less light, of course, and a fair amount of it is slate-gray of late. The chilled air gets between you and your layers, a sharp reminder that winter is close. The keen observers know that the natural world — even in those pinnacle moments — is always in flux, and we with it.

Like the trees going dormant, Kurt Mead said, humans depend on these transitions, too. “I depend on the cycles. I welcome fall. I welcome winter. And I welcome the next season that comes in.” Mead is the naturalist at Tettegouche State Park on the North Shore.

He sees something more in the latter parts of this season.

“It looks less like desolation and more of hope and anticipation to me,” said Mead.

Mead likes the woods after fall’s glory days. “After the leaves fall and things get quiet ... as much as I love the closeness of the forest, it allows me to see a little farther in. You can see the forest for what it is. Everything is stripped away.”

The arresting images in the gallery with these words, by Star Tribune photographer Brian Peterson, freeze moments of a world getting stripped bare, yet never stripped of its beauty.