72 Seasons now open for Summer

 

72 Seasons is now open for Summer sign ups.

Join us in our beautifully calm and easy nature project. We ask you to fill in some simple online surveys all about health and wellbeing, and then take you on a journey to seek the seasons with us. During Summer we will be looking out for weather changes, plants fruiting and flowering and noticing more of the subtle changes in nature. We will email you three seasons in advance to look out for and then ask what you noticed. It can all be done online, and in your local area. You don’t need to be able to travel far or have a garden, you could take part just by looking out of your windows if you wanted.

 

Summer sign ups has now closed. 

 

We look forward to adventuring with you. Please note 72 seasons is a research project and is part of the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership portfolio of projects.

 

 

18 reasons to love Winter; a creative evaluation of wellbeing

18 reasons to love Winter; a creative evaluation of wellbeing

72 seasons is a year-long research project, designed by Kirsty Rose Parker (founder & director of The Evaluator), to measure how being more connected to nature makes us feel. We do that through working with a team of volunteer seasonal seekers. We have planned a whole year – 2020 – where the seasons change every 4 or 5 days, originally inspired by the ancient natural calendar in Japan.

Our seasonal seekers agree to complete health and wellbeing research surveys and then they start their adventure. Trying to notice the changes in nature, we are building a community around Pendle Hill who look a little bit closer, a little bit more often, even just from their gardens and windows as the world changes. We had never heard of Coronavirus when this project began on 1st January 2020; but despite the changes in our daily lives and massive upheavals in our wellbeing, nature soldiers on, and so do we.

Here we share the results of the nature we have spotted. 180 people began this journey with us, a few have left and a few have since joined. We are a community that ebbs and flows, and people can choose how involved they get.

In 2020, we changed the season ‘Winter’ into 18 smaller seasons and asked our seasonal seekers to go out and about as much as they normally would, and see what they spotted.

The beautiful seasonal illustrations are by local artist, Cath Ford. You can check more of her work out here. Cath lives in Blackburn and she knows the nature we know. She is a very talented artist and we feel very lucky to be working with her.

Season; 1 – 4 January: The Earth is Unyielding 

Season; 5 – 9 January: Bare Branches are Stark


Originally we had planned that this season would be called ‘Frost Adorns Bare Branches’ but this was something our seasonal seekers disagreed with and we chose a new season to replace it, based on what our seekers saw.
This image of a misty Pendle Hill was taken by
Stella Nuttall on 5th January 2020.
This image of bare branches was taken by
 Sam Root on 5th January 2020.

Season; 10 – 14 January: The First Snowdrops Emerge 

This image of snowdrops emerging was taken by
one of our seasonal seekers on 10th January 2020.
This image of a snowdrop was taken by
Sally Lambert on 12th January 2020.

Season; 15 – 19 January: The Robin Calls 

This image of a Robin was taken by
Kirsty Rose Parker on 16th January 2020.
As time went by, our seasonal seekers gained confidence in the project and started to connect more with us as a group. People started feeling able to share images of nature that meant something to them. They started to share what they noticed.
This image was taken by
Anita Vine on 19th January 2020.
This image was taken by
Sally Lambert on 19th January 2020.

Season; 20 – 24 January: Frost Crackles Underfoot 

Season; 25 – 29 January: The Earth hides in Grey Mist

Originally we were going to call this season ‘The Earth is White’ but very little white was found by our seekers. One explorer shared a little tiny bit of white earth, and another spotted some white, but overall there wasn’t much white to be found.

This image was taken by
one of our seasonal seekers on 28th January 2020.
This image was taken by
John Rose Parker on 28th January 2020.

We only keep a season if more than 50% agree with it. Our seasonal seekers complete short surveys throughout the project and we ask them if they have noticed a season or not. We occasionally ask them other questions too.

When we change a season we look for what people are sharing and telling us and then rename it. It was clear people were sharing images of mist.

This image was taken by
one of our seasonal seekers on 19th January 2020.
This image was taken by
one of our seasonal seekers on 21st January 2020.

In the image above, Pendle Hill is hidden by the mist! That is actually quite common around here. If you can’t see Pendle, you know the weather isn’t great. It’s also what the famous book by Robert Neil is named after; ‘Mist over Pendle’ is a dramatic retelling of the events of 1612 which led to the Pendle Witches being tried for witchcraft at Lancaster Castle, culminating in 10 lives lost.

This image was taken by
Jackie Hindle South on 22nd January 2020.

It was about this point where people began to start sharing many more nature images. Kirsty Rose Parker explains, “I was feeling a bit worried about the project as so many of the first seasons seemed wrong. Even though everyone agreed it was a really mild January, it was difficult to trust the process at that time. However, looking back, so many seasons being incorrect right at the start seems to have given our nature seekers confidence to take part more and be more vocal.”

Not just vocal, but visual too! People were really taking time to look around, to notice the finer details in nature and to share those images with a like-minded, local audience.

This image was taken by
Sally Lambert on 22nd January 2020.

People also started to look out for previous seasons and to notice that things were early or late, sometimes missing. Here one of our seasonal seekers had remembered the snowdrop season from earlier in the month.

This image was taken by
Sarah Martin on 26th January 2020.
This image was taken by
Jackie Monk on 26th January 2020.

And another remember the season about Robins and shared an image after spotting one. One person told us, “it has encouraged me to keep my own nature diary of all the things I see”

Season; 30 January – 3 February: Morning Grass Glistens

And, talking of remembering previous seasons, Cathy Dobney spotted some white. we really loved the subtlety of this image!

This image was taken by
Cathy Dobney on 30th January 2020.
This image was taken by
Caroline Porter on 2nd February 2020.
It was about this point, about one month in, when people really began interacting more with each other. Caroline’s picture above of snowdrops created a discussion about what the ‘white thing’ is in the background? Litter, a heron, a goose, a spot on the camera? We just don’t know.
This image was taken by
Sam Root on 2nd February 2020.

We had planned to call this season ‘Spider Webs Glisten’, and Cath Ford had drawn a lovely image. We will try and work this into a future season, in Autumn. Sam’s image above was one of the few webs spotted, so we changed this season too.

Season; 4 – 7 February: Spring Winds Shake Raindrops

This was another change – the mild weather did make for a lot of new seasons! Originally we had planned to call this season ‘Spring Winds Thaw the Ice’ but there wasn’t much ice to thaw. One seasonal seeker did find some ice, but we had to wait quite a few more days for ice to be seen.
This image was taken by
Leanne Duckworth on 4th February 2020.
This image was taken by
Sally Lambert on 11th February 2020.

Season; 8 – 13 February: The Curlew Calls

Season; 14 – 18 February: Spring Is In The Air

Two seasons correct in a row! Whoop!

One of our seasonal seekers noticed a meeting of herons and shared a photograph on St Valentine’s Day; maybe love was in the air? Another seeker told us that she always felt that herons were a good omen, and we found out collectively that a group of herons is a ‘siege’. It was lovely to see the group really starting to bond.

This image was taken by
Stella Nuttall on 14th February 2020.
Stella mentioned they once saw a meeting of 27 herons! Have you ever seen more than one heron at a time?

Season; 19 – 23 February: The Earth Becomes Damp

At this point in the year, Storm Ciara was recent and people across the UK were flooded. Storm Dennis finished on the first day of this mini season. There was so much rain, it was literally torrential. It was a sad time.

But, nature comforts. Here a seasonal seeker shared a photograph, possibly thinking of ‘white’ but another seeker commented, “Oh how pretty that looks. Like a Christmas Card.”

This image was taken by
Anita Vine on 24th February 2020.

Season; 24 – 28 February: Haze First Covers the Sky

Unsurprisingly it proved quite tricky to get photographs of haze. Luckily, one of our plucky seekers managed it.

This image was taken by
Cathy Dobney on 27th February 2020.

Season; 1 – 5 March: Plants Show Their First Buds

We really love this image from Cath. They are all special, but there is something about this one. This season is also where the natural world and the weather seemed to start changing into something more hopeful. Maybe that is why?

This image was taken by
Sarah Martin on 1st March 2020.
These images were taken by
one of our seasonal seekers on 1st March 2020.

Another seasonal seeker took a nice picture of redcurrent buds on the 4th March, as we had shared a blurry version! It really was starting to feel like we are all in this together.

This image was taken by
Sarah Martin on 4th March 2020.

People were starting to share their feelings more about nature. One seasonal seeker told us, “Ooh spring makes me feel so happy!”, as they shared an image of wild garlic emerging in Townley park.

This image was taken by
Linda Spencer on 4th March 2020.

It is nice when a season is correct and everyone spots it. Then there is a feeling, a certainty, that this is right. It’s hard to explain. It is linked to a feel of community. This quote by Alan Bennett helps to explain it…

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – that you’d thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead. And, it’s as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.”

This image was taken by
Sam Root on 5th March 2020.

While organising permissions for these photographs, we noticed how many of our names are plant or nature related – surnames like root, earthup, rose, for example. We wondered if having a natural surname means genetically you are more likely to enjoy nature? Or possibly just more predisposed to notice more nature? Or maybe you are always likely to have this many nature names in any selection of people? We haven’t asked for personal details in this project, so it’s not a tangent we can go and follow!

This image of a “beautiful ice sheet on the pond, looked like cellophane”
was taken by Sue Boardman on 6th March 2020.
This image of frogspawn in the pond
 was taken by Judith Cunliffe on 7th March 2020.
Frogspawn is actually a well known indicator of Spring and nature. You may be wondering why the seasons didn’t include this? It’s actually a core part of the project – we deliberately didn’t choose frogspawn because our seasons need to be open to people who might not have a garden – or might not be able to walk to a remote pond. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t lovely to see these, but our research project is designed to be equal access – regardless of where you live or your abilities. This was to prove crucial towards the end of the month.

Season; 6 – 10 March: Hibernating Creatures Open Their Doors. 

After just explaining how important it was that the project was open widely, this season does seem to require access to a garden. However, although hedgehogs might be quite famous hibernators, bumblebees, some butterflies, ladybirds, bats, and slow worms are all creatures commonly found in the UK that hibernate.

This picture of ‘a mouses house’ was taken by
Suzi Earthup on 20th February 2020.
This was a special photograph to share though, as so few of us ever get to see a mouse’s house.
This image was taken by
Kirsty Rose Parker on 8th March 2020.

We managed to find a bee that did look like it had just woken up. It spent about twenty minutes sat on the dandelion warming up before flying away. Another seasonal seeker explained, “that will be a Bumble Queen. They sometimes sunbathe to warm up before they can fly.”

Season; 11 – 15 March: The Butterbur Flowers.

Butterburs do look quite strange and alien when they flower, and can be seen in wild grounds but particularly near canals and streams. Cath Ford, our artist was thrilled to get to draw a butterbur!

This image was taken by
Sally Lambert on 11th March 2020.
This image was taken by
Sally Lambert on 11th March 2020.

Season; 16 – 20 March: The Magnolia Blooms 

People often have Magnolias in front gardens and they are quite distinctive and easy to spot, regardless of whether you own a magnolia or not. They are scented, so worth sniffing if you see one.

Our seasonal seekers responded well to this one, as Tammie began Magnolia watch on the 18th March. This season is possibly a little early, but the majority of people agreed with it, so we have kept it.

This image was taken by
Tammie Beckett on 18th March 2020.
This image of “mine has less buds than Tammies”
was taken by Stella Nuttall on 18th March 2020.
This image was taken by
Kirsty Rose Parker on 26th March 2020.
This image was taken by
Sue Boardman on 1st April 2020.

At this moment in time, the world began to slow down for Coronavirus, but it was a good time to spot wildlife. Our seasonal seekers shared some really lovely wildlife images.

We also are very pleased that this project can all be done from home, and that it continues to run and to provide solace in difficult times. Many people know that nature continues and provides comfort, but paying attention to the subtle changes we hope will help wellbeing for everyone taking part.

This image was taken by
Pamela Wilkinson on 17th March 2020.
This image of “my first bee” was taken by
Sheila Moss on 19th March 2020.
This image was taken by
Sally Lambert on 19th March 2020.
This image was taken by
Yvonne Carter on 20th March 2020.
This image was taken by
Sheila Moss on 20th March 2020.
This image was taken by
Sarah Martin on 24th March 2020.
This image was taken by
Sarah Martin on 25th March 2020.
This image was taken by
Sue Boardman on 26th March 2020.
This image of “dragonfly larvae” was taken by
Sue Boardman on 27th March 2020.

Season; 21 – 25 March: The Sparrow Builds Her Nest 

This image was taken by
Michelle on 25th March 2020.
Michelle shared this image and then asked, ‘does this count as a nesting sparrow?’ And we have to admit, this season was nigh on impossible to photograph. Thank goodness we have Cath’s beautiful images to accompany the seasons.
This image “although we are now at home, we share each other’s journeys”
was taken by Sue Boardman on 26th March 2020.

It has been such a comfort to have a group to talk to about nature, to share our daily walks with, to keep working for (although here at The Evaluator we can work 100% from home, so we are doing).

When we first planned this project, we had thought it would impact on people’s wellbeing, but had not envisaged just how much it would impact on our own – or how our wellbeing would be collectively challenged during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Season; 26 – 30 March: The First Cherry Blossoms

This image was taken by
Stella Nuttall on 27th March 2020.
This image was taken by
Sam Root on 29th March 2020.
This image was taken by
one of our seasonal seekers on 31st March 2020.

And that brings us to the end of Winter. The 72 seasons continue; they will throughout the whole of 2020. It seems fitting to end on Cherry Blossom, as the Japanese season of
Sakura is famous across the whole world, and it was the ancient natural Japanese calendar which inspired the whole project.

Introducing 72 Seasons

72 Seasons is a research project all about noticing the seasons change and measuring how it makes people feel when they are more connected to nature.

During 2020 The Evaluator is working with a team of volunteers, ‘Seasonal Seekers’ who agree to fill in some research questionnaires and then seek the changes in nature. During 2020 we no longer have just four seasons around Pendle Hill (Lancashire, England) but 72 and our team of volunteers try and spot the changes in nature every 4 or 5 days. By the end of the year, we will have 72 agreed seasons and a deeper understanding of the ways in which being connected to nature affect health and wellbeing.

Inspired by the ancient Japanese calendar of 72 seasons, but updated and adapted for our climate, 72 Seasons is an active research project which can all be done online and is continuing during the Coronavirus outbreak.

We are working with local artist Cath Ford, who is drawing the seasons for us.

Volunteers are welcome to join at four points during the year, the start of Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. Feel free to drop us an email at kirsty@theevaluator.co.uk if you want us to tell you when sign ups open. 

This project is part of the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership range of projects. You can learn more about all the others here.