Autumn in the 72 Seasons

Welcome to Autumn, our final adventure in nature. This season has an added layer of poignancy, as there is a sense of ending running throughout. Our seasonal seekers were really engaged this season though, there was a lot of spotting and sharing. Maybe they were making the most of the project while it lasted? Maybe it was more needed as Autumn included another lockdown? Maybe we just got the seasons spot on this time? Maybe the group had got to know each other much better and felt more comfortable together? Maybe it was all of the above.


Season; 3 – 7 October: Conkers Peek from Spiky Shells

Who doesn’t love conkers? They are one of the best toys we are given from nature in my humble opinion. I think a ‘horse-chestnut’ or ‘conker’ tree is probably the most commonly identified tree in the UK. Then there is the joy of opening the spiky shells and finding a big one, or a triple, or a double and the beautiful colours and shiny ness of new conkers too. It just feels like the right season to launch Autumn.


Images; conkers in the trees and conkers around a shell taken 4 October, conkers in my hand taken 6 October, expansive and gorgeous Pendle Hill view taken 6 October and red autumn leaves also taken 6 October.

In Japan, in the original ancient natural calendar, this season is ‘The Paddy Water is First Drained’. That is a real culture difference, isn’t it. Paddy fields are not in our national psyche, in the same way that conkers maybe aren’t in Japan. I mentioned in a previous post, that the seasons are inspired by the ancient Japanese calendar, but are mostly translated into nature based happenings which are easy to spot, without having to go too far into the countryside. We have tried to keep as many as possible from the Japanese seasons, but some just can’t work here – The Elk Sheds its Horns and The Bear Retreats to its Den are both seasons in this period in Japan, for example, and I’ve not spotted many Elk or Bears in my everyday wanderings!


Season; 8 – 12 October: Red Leaves Glow

Images; yellow autumnal leaves from 8 October, red leaves on building taken 10 October and close up of red leaves from 12 October.

This was a good season which was kept as 100% agreed that this was happening. Many red glowing leaves were found, on buildings, peeping over walls, amongst forests and towering over parks and car parks. There was even some spotted on the way to the bus stop, which is my consistent litmus test. Can you see this season if all you do is walk to the bus stop? If yes, it fits, if no, it does not. This season, that was again more vital than ever I could have anticipated. This area of Lancashire, around Pendle Hill has had some of the strictest restrictions for almost all the year, and little exploration has been allowed.


Season; 13 -17 October: Leaf Peepers Admire Autumn Colours

Natures palette is really vibrant and wonderful at this time of year, and it’s a great idea to admire some colour and enjoy the show the trees put on for us. Leaf peeping is quite an American term, but it just means enjoy looking at the leaf colours, and maybe take a photograph. It’s also something that changes over time, you can look each day and note subtle differences, or look at groups each week and note sweeping changes.

Images; a hairy and later flowering clematis 13 October, orange leaved tree with red leaved shrub taken on 16 October, vibrant red tree also taken 16 October, bare tree from the same day, bright white snowberries also from the same day.

Obviously all our seekers were out and about on the 16 October making the most of the blue skies and crisp light. Many of them told us they enjoyed kicking the leaves which had fallen, and a couple suggested that the season should include that, but I try and keep the seasons something that anyone can enjoy, even if not able-bodied or able to get out and kick leaves.


Season; 18 – 22 October: Holly Berries Feed the Birds

Images; leaves taken on 20 October, cows taken on 22 October. I love how creative and nicely framed these images are.

People agreed with the season but obviously found to tricky to photograph – they got there in the end, as you will see a little further down.

72 Seasons is primarily a research project. We wanted to know if we could bring people closer to nature, if we could make people feel more connected to nature and to measure their health and wellbeing as we did that. As I write this blog, we are also carrying out analysis on all the results. As part of that work I keep reading the comments people have made during the year.

This season people were telling us that “The seasons seem to be back in synch now after our blip over the summer months when things didn’t seem to fit our 72 seasons very well! Autumn is fitting better! 😁”
Others mentioned “The nights are drawing in and the leaves are dropping from the trees” and more that “The Redwings are flying around the hedgerows on Billington Moor having arrived from Scandinavia. The Hawthorns are shedding their leaves now as are the Sycamores and Birch.”  I really love the range of people taking part. Some are very knowledgeable, others like detail and others like big sweeping changes “Getting darker earlier and a chill in the air.” Some notice animals, some notice birds, some notice flowers.

“Squirrels burying nuts”

“The last of the blackberries on the country lanes, which I have been enjoying on my walks for the last few months.”

“Time for planting bulbs”

“I have seen lots of different formations of geese flying over”

72 Seasons is a project that anyone can engage with, whatever their expertise or interests. It designed to work for a really wide variety of people.

Season; 23 – 27 October: The First Frost Falls

Ahh, the crispness of a frost. When the air feels sharper and everything is outlined and clearer! This season was one of the trickier seasons, it was kept but with only 58% of the seekers agreeing. Maybe there were pockets of places which had some frost, and other areas that didn’t? Maybe there wasn’t any frost at all but most people thought it was a blip in the weather and that frost would return next year.

Image; snail defying gravity with ease 24 October


Season; 28 October – 1 November: The Pumpkins are Carved

I mentioned in the Summer seasons (you can read that previous blog post here) that I chose the first July season to be one of my favourite things. This one is my youngest’s favourite. He loves Halloween a lot. We watch a lot of American Halloween cartoons all year round and I know some of the most popular Halloween songs off by heart now, including such dreadful classics as ‘Halloween night’ and ‘Scary, flying shark’. Did you know there was a tradition of singing? If you didn’t, its coming! We always end up with what’s popular in America over here eventually don’t we? While thinking about this season, is it nature? Pumpkins being ripe is probably a season, but not something you can easily find on a walk to the bus stop. This is quite a man made and nature combined season. It’s the only season that is a bit on the cusp, but I have to admit I wondered how our seekers would find this one? Yet this season was kept with 100% agreed.

Images; autumn leaves on the floor 30 October, bird eating holly 30 October, another bird eating holly also on 30 October and pumpkin image taken on 2 November.

Also, our seekers spotted birds eating holly berries now. These are a couple of great action shots.


Season; 2 – 6 November: Hedgehogs Shut their Doors

Well certainly a challenge to photograph this official season! Not sure it’s actually possible. Thank goodness we have Cath Ford drawing all the seasons, I mean not only is she brilliant, but it brings all these trickier seasons to life along with the others. It’s also a nice season to imagine, hunkering down and hibernating and time to be cosy.

You can see colour changes in the photographs as you look through a whole season. The green starts to go and browns and oranges start to arrive and this selection of images really shows that.

Images; bare tree with blue sky taken 4 November, black ash buds 4 November, horse chestnut buds and witches broom in tree also from 4 November and frost, mist and flooded fields from 5 November.

Witches broom is a deformity in a woody plant, typically a tree, where the natural structure of the plant is changed. A dense mass of shoots grows from a single point, with the resulting structure resembling a broom or a bird’s nest. It is sometimes caused by pathogens. I used to think these were birds nests, but I love the name, witches broom. It’s evocative, and descriptive, and oh-so-apt for Pendle, which is internationally famous for witches of course.

This season coincided with back into national lockdown, and our seasonal seekers had to explore even more locally than before. Thank goodness there is always something to look at in nature. We have certainly needed the comfort and reassurance of something happening as usual this year.


Season; 7 – 11 November: The Trees are Bare

Images – all of the above taken on 7 November; tree full of red berries, bare trees full of starlings, bare trees in front of sunset, bare trees in the park, colourful gum tree, and bare tree in garden.


Images; leaves clinging to trees on 8 November, green moss on dry stone wall 8 November.

These two images both feel very peaceful. It is quite a calm season, having bare trees.

Images; two different paths through trees on 9 November

I do really love how the paths here are so different, yet taken on the same day. One with mixed colours and shapes and one orderly, like each one has a wood artist, one who is messy and one who is ordered! I wonder if one is a managed forest and one not, or if it something to do with wind and seed dispersal many years ago.


Images of two different bare trees, left from 9 November and right from 10 November.

When the above left image was shared, our seeker captioned it ‘Moody Bare Tree’ and it got me thinking – they have a bit more personality when they’re naked! What do you think? Do you see a different side to the trees when they lose their leaves? Have you noticed this before? This is how the whole project works by the way, each season is designed to encourage you to either look at something new, look at a change or to look again at something you know well. The whole project is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, who fund a lot of building work and once told me that people always tell them they look up more after a place has been ‘done up’. Well, this project is about looking up, down, sideways and again!

Images; Bare trees with crisp reflection taken on 10 November, autumn sunset featuring bare trees from 11 November.

We haven’t had many sunset and night images shared, it was lovely to see this one.


Season; 12 – 16 November: Honking Geese Fly By

This is a new season, which replaced one which didn’t make the final cut. The abandoned one was ‘The Land Freezes’. It feels quite dramatic to say that. I know the weather seasons have been harder for people than the ones about things. Wonderfully explained by one of our seekers “I think that because there have been more weather ones there is less push to go out and look for specific things. I like looking for things!” I replaced this with a season which encompasses sound and imagery too, and hopefully fills skies across Pendle and nearby. I personally live in an urban part of the area, and the geese fly over my house twice a day, at dusk and at dawn. It’s quite a vibrant sound, and the formation is just like Cath’s drawing above. If you have Instagram, think of following her work on there.

Fun fact, I thought of Cath’s Instagram (which is here) because at the moment she keeps sharing her nail varnish and clothes combinations and my nails are currently painted in the exact shade of the sky above! We know how to live a rock and roll life in lockdown!!

In all seriousness though, 72 Seasons has had an added level of importance in lockdown, and during covid. It became a comfort and inspired people. One seeker told me they were going to take up a photography course soon after enjoying taking photographs of these seasons. Another said “I’m consciously trying to notice more and have started to do little What’s app quizzes with families like “what 5 birds do you think I saw this morning”. Something fun and cheerful. 2nd wave is definitely harder!”


Season; 17 – 21 November: Puddles Galore!

Who doesn’t love splashing in puddles? Not us, as 100% of people agreed with this season. There is a Scandinavian saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing – which might be said everywhere it’s cold and rainy to be honest. But, it’s certainly something I have appreciated since moving to the far east of Lancashire about 15 years ago. It does rain, a lot. So you have to put on some weather proof clothing and go out regardless, as if you wait for nice days, you might be waiting a long time. Of course, as soon as I mention that, there is a day of glorious weather!


Images; Blues skies and gorgeous weather and views of the rolling countryside and moors taken on 19 November

Also spotted on the 19 November, is this bright yellow waxcap fungi. Waxcap fungi like grasslands with poor nutrients and because of that are quite hard to spot, and are a species in decline. There just aren’t enough places left which are not used in some way. You can read more about waxcaps here. 

Image taken on 21 November ‘Wet Puddle Walk’

This was one of my photographs, I had some fun out splashing in puddles and shared a collage. Also showing off my new wellies too – they are Muck Boots are are great, really thick soles so your feet don’t get cold, but it does make them them heavy to walk in. “Nice new wellies! And thanks for enjoying the puddles for us in them.” one seeker said. But I told the group I wasn’t brave enough to walk through the middle of the top one! I had visions of disappearing down up to my neck, which was a scene I remembered laughing at in The Vicar of Dibley, which is an old tv show now. One person replied “Exactly what happened to our daughter when she was about 18 months old – she disappeared into a puddle she jumped into (the drain cover had also disappeared) Thankfully she was still holding my hand.” Can you imagine how much your heart would be beating if that happened? I’d be too scared to let them splash in puddles. So, puddles galore but stay safe folks!


Season; 22 – 26 November: The Rainbow Hides Unseen

Grey skies with rainbow from 22 November.

Hidden rainbows was the season we went out to meet three seekers in person, don’t worry, this was in between lockdowns and we stood outside their homes, and travelled in separate cars, so it was all very Covid-secure. What it was, through, was a really marvellous day out! I started working from home full time on the 16th March 2020, and this day, the 27th November was the first day I had left the office for work. I was so excited! I asked three different seekers to talk on camera about their experiences during the year. I was really keen to do this while the project was still happening and to capture the project, live. Our three interviewees; Jackie, Caroline and Sue, were wonderful hosts, making us all feel welcome and pretty hardy agreeing to stand outside with us for the whole couple of hours we were there. The wonderful Caroline and Dave from Huckleberry Films (their website is here) did all the hard work, setting up cameras and sound equipment, recording, and then creating the film. I just chatted to people and asked some questions. I’m really grateful to everyone who made this happen, and also to Cathy from the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership (their website is here) who supported the film financially, through National Lottery Heritage Funds.

You can see the film here.

I do hope you have watched the film, it’s incredibly heartwarming and a lovely piece of work, telling the story of noticing nature and how connection matters.


Images above all taken on 26 November; autumn sunset through a tangled frame, misty field, giant horsetail, a misty sunset and turkey tail fungus.

Talking about the giant horsetail one seeker explained it was a “stunning and an incredible plant, although not keen on them in my garden” and another that “I’d never seen them before. Certainly, wouldn’t want them in my garden either!” and it was through lots and lots of moments like this, our seekers connected with each other. I am still sad that we weren’t able to get the seekers to meet each other in person, but we proved the resilience of humans, and nature, and connection can cut through that.


Season; 27 November – 1 December: The North Wind Brushes the Leaves

Image; Frost tipped grass from 1st December

As December began, we were coming to the end of the research project, and this was our last month together. This was when we asked people what they might do next year as the project ended?

Just carry on looking at nature

I’ll be doing more noticing

Will miss it! 72seasons has got me thinking about doing a photography course, or just learning a bit more about how to take better photographs of the natural world.

I’ll just keep observing!

I would miss it if it disappeared. I hope that it continues so that we can see which Seasons have been adopted / adapted / thrown out / replaced. It’s provided a welcome break from Covid and a great opportunity to engage with the natural world.

Sad. 😭 Keep looking out for detail and not lumping seasons together – hoping this will help get me through winter which I always find hard. Thank you. I have enjoyed it.

I have enjoyed the project. Observing wildlife was something I did before and will continue to do but monitoring the seasons in such detail is something I may continue with.

Carry on watching the seasons unfold – but I don’t wish to carry on with this project

I feel really sad 😢 Not thought further …

Birds sightings trees coming into bud sighting of flowers or wild herbs

No issues. Carry on enjoying the great outdoors

If you could produce a calendar I would continue doing it next year.

I think it’s really sad. How will we get through January and February!! Thank you so much for doing this project .


I feel sad, it has really kept me in touch with the outdoors and i have enjoyed the 72 seasons. Next: I am going to spend more time outdoors and notice the mini seasons more

I will continue taking photographs and watching for changes again as I walk in the countryside. It would be good if the Facebook group could continue to post comments and photos and keep in touch. I think I will take up diary writing next year as I haven’t done that since a teenager. I wish I had started this year. It would have been interested to look back on. The project has been very good for me and helped to keep me positive. Thank you Kirsty. Oh and I’ve enjoyed the art work so much and if a calendar was made I would love a copy to keep one as a reminder.

I will miss it ,but I will continue to walk one hour every day and will continue to take my daily photo for the river ribble Trust

I will miss seeing the pictures. Not thought about next year yet!

Will miss it but hopefully carry on noticing the world around me

No thoughts but have been on walks and taking notice of my surroundings

I have noticed most things out on dog walks , so every day. It’s been such a good project enabling you to observe more instead of walking past. We will keep walking Pendle and trying the different loops. We are still discovering different parts , even now !

The above are all the answers we received. Although not everyone was gushing about our project a large number plan to continue their connection with nature. That’s a cheering thought, that there will be lasting change.


Season; 2 – 6 December: Morning Walkers Crack Icy Puddles

This is a new season and replaced ‘The First Icicle Forms’ as no one found any icicles. They may have been very well hidden or in fact they may not have actually existed this time. Our volunteers did find icy puddles though and a few mentioned overnight ice, and one talked of spotting puddles in the morning and I put as many comments together into one season as I possibly could – so this was a truly co-produced season. Maybe you recognise one of your comments?

Bare tree in icy puddle taken on 3 December, budding trees from 4 December.


Season; 7 – 11 December: The Sky is Cold, Winter Comes


Images; autumn sunrise on 7 December, and sunrise behind bare branches also from 7 December.

It was, very, cold!


Season; 12 – 16 December: Evergreens Stand Alone

I love the detail of this image, it’s just a perfect vision of this time of year. Would also make a cracking Christmas card too!

Images; Snow on Pendle hill taken on 14 December, 15 December was the sunny shore from one of our seekers who took a short break from Pendle.


Season; 17 – 21 December: The Sky is Dark

I remember when planning this project, I did an exercise with a group about finding their birthday seasons. Someone came up to me and told me this was their season, and they didn’t like it! I did think about changing it, but I’m glad I stuck to it. We need to get better at enjoying all the seasons and weather, and  dark skies are a great time to stargaze, or to celebrate the Winter Solstice. And, luckily, 92% of you agreed this season was a keeper.

Image; Dark sky on 19 December.

Images; Daffodils sprouting on 17 December and an expansive view taken on 17 December.

Are the daffodils really early this year to sprout? Or is it something that always happens and only time I noticed? Also, I wanted to share the image of the grasslands, which looks to be on Pendle Hill itself to me. Doesn’t that look like it will have a dark sky soon?

Season; 22 – 26 December: Frost Patterns Fallen Leaves

Images; frosty leaves on 22 December, frozen puddle and brown leaves taken 24 December, frosty green leaf and frosty puddle also taken on 24 December, then frosted window and another puddle from 25 December – Christmas day!

Our Christmas season. Whatever your thoughts on Christmas, it was clear we all love frost patterning leaves. ice, and frost in general are endlessly fascinating if you like pattern. Beautiful, fleeting, fascinating.


Season; 27 – 31 December: The Snow Creates Silence

This is it, our very last season. I wrote in the email sent to our seekers, that we were taking a fairly large risk predicting snow, at the end of the year, and not just any snow but the soft fluffy kind which affects soundwaves and creates silence. Waking up on the 27 December, you would have never believed snow was coming.

Images; All of the above were taken on 27 December.

But it did, snow fell. The right kind, on the right day, as though finally the weather had read my email and that the whole universe conspired to align the seasons for us. What a way to end.


Images; Robin and bare trees from 28 December

Loved this stunning image of winter – snow, a robin, it’s just wonderful. Total fluke too according to the photographer!


Images; Snowy hill from 28 December, snowy evergreens from 28 December, more snowy trees also from the 28 December, an undisturbed field of snow from 28 December and a snowy garden from 29 December.

All the above images taken on 30 December; ice close up, ice looking like fur, frosted leaves, canal towepath frosty in the morning, ice on car roof

Images; 31 December frosted spiders web and snow tips in garden.

I can’t believe we ended on such a high. We got the very last season season so exactly right!


Thank you to all our volunteers. Did you know 310 people took part in seeking the seasons with us in 2020. They donated a huge amount of their time, and enthusiasm for nature and created a community which gave a lot of people a lot of solace during the most difficult of years.


Please note all photographs have been image described in their captions, to make sure this post is accessible to the widest possible audience.

If you have any questions or thoughts on this blog post, please send me an email at – I’m afraid I had to turn comments off this blog, as it was just getting filled with spam robot stuff which no-one wants to see.


Thanks for reading, thanks for seeking.



Summer in the 72 Seasons


It wasn’t the sunniest and warmest of Summers in the main. Maybe all the sunshine was allocated to Spring? I think if I’m honest this season struggled a bit more than the others. Lots of people did manage to go on holidays, including me, and staff shortages meant an extremely busy Summer when not away. One seeker explained “I am enjoying this project but feel I’ve contributed less lately due to family commitments during the school holidays.” Maybe everyone spent more time in nature and less time sharing pictures, or our seasons maybe didn’t pop quite as much, but luckily our intrepid seasonal seekers adapted well and sought out quite a lot of nature to share with others.

I think it shows how resilient the project and the concept is. A year is a long time to run an activity with people, and there has to be peaks and troughs within that year. Also, as an experimental concept, running for the first time, it’s always tricky to predict how much people will ‘get it’ especially since this project is a little deliberately vague so people can make it what they want it to be.  I only hoped that some people would stay with us for the whole year, I did expect quite a lot of people to drop out. Spoiler alert! They didn’t, well not many did!

Let’s take a look at what happened.

Season; 2 – 6 July: Trees Create Dappled Sunshine

I have a little confession to make here, this is what I think of as ‘my’ season. It’s my birthday in this time and when I was writing all the seasons and planning it out, I did decide to create something that is special for me. That special thing is when trees create dappled sunshine. I love to walk through a woodland or through just a couple of trees where beams of sunshine fall down through the canopy, and one footstep is lit up and glittery and the next in shadow. I think it’s one of the most beautiful things in the world, and a little bit of everyday magic. Luckily, our seekers agreed with me and this season made the final cut.

We keep a season if more than 50% of our seekers agree with it. They can agree in two ways; ‘yes I noticed this’ or ‘yes I think this is right but did not notice it myself’ and we gave that option to account for busy lives, or trips away or just times when people had other things going on.

I do love the way our seekers notice wonderful little moments and then share it. On the 2 July one person captured a spiderweb which has captured many raindrops. One person said “These are like beautiful jewels” and another “Amazing that it can hold all that water and possibly even survived the heavy rain we’ve had to catch that many droplets – incredible!”.

Spider web fact- Spider silk is stronger by weight than steel. Spider silk is lighter than cotton and up to 1,000 times thinner than human hair, yet it’s also incredibly strong for such a wispy material.

In the emails we sent to people explaining the new seasons to look out for we would share snippets of information and some knowledge about each season, to help encourage people to keep learning, which is one of the five ways to wellbeing. The five ways to wellbeing are a core part of this project, the principles underline the whole piece of work. It’s that the five ways – connect, take notice, keep learning, be active and give back, are proven ways to help us feel better. That’s quite important during a pandemic, when our wellbeing is much more fragile.


This photograph of birds feeding was taken on 5 July by one of our seekers.  Isn’t that an amazing photograph? Really in the moment, perfectly timed, and crisp focus too.

Our seekers were out in force that Sunday, also spotting…

An elephant hawk moth, daisies and a field of lavender.

One day later, 6 July a seeker shared a photograph of wild strawberries. “I’ve been picking and eating wild raspberries on my walk” one seeker mentioned and another “Wild strawberries are tiny with a surprisingly good flavour.”

Season; 7 – 11 July: Hot Winds Blow

It’s January as I write this, and it’s cold and windy. But I can think back to when the wind is hot, I can remember the feel of that on my skin. I can remember the warmth. It’s a hard season to capture in a photograph, and most of our seekers seemed to be looking down. Maybe they were avoiding those hot winds?


Mushrooms taken on the 7 July, and both ladybirds also spotted (do you like what I did there?) on the 7 July.

One place where it’s always windy, hot or not, is our anchor, Pendle Hill. All our seekers live around it, within half an hour or so. This project is funded by the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership.

This image of Pendle Hill was taken on the 11 July. We did keep this season.

Season; 12 – 16 July: The Raspberries Turn Red

Some raspberries, red ones, at Quarry Hill in Nelson, taken on the 12 July. It looks like a gloriously sunny day on that photograph.

Yet look at this, taken just two days later. The Great British weather in Summer is a moveable feast!

Fog on the hills taken on 14 July.

Then back to sunshine again. Impossible to predict. I know, I tried! This time our seekers found flowers

Pink flower taken on the 15 July, same as the yellow flower, and the photograph of the white flower was taken on the 12 July. I don’t know the names of all of these flowers, except for Cow Parsley on the right.

Taken the day before our new season on 16 July, one seeker was cleverly anticipating the next season.

Season; 17 – 23 July: Lavender Feeds the Bees

Great timing as this was taken on the 17 July. I also love how this seems to match Cath’s drawing perfectly. The colour, shape, stance, everything is just spot on. Sometimes, there is a season like this where everything works- the timing, the weather, the noticing, all in perfect alignment and this was one of those seasons. Lots of people saw lavender with bees on in real life and there was 100% agreement this season, but it was quite tricky to photograph. That doesn’t matter though, its nice to think of people watching the seasons in real life, and not always through a screen. Especially this year, where screen use is probably higher than it ever has been.

Amazing that one of our seekers managed to photograph this, which was taken on 19 July.

72 Seasons has been a really democratic place, where anyone could share knowledge and information, stories, and wonder. It has remained a really pure group on Facebook, which is drama free and all about nature in this area. Not everyone taking part in the project takes part in the Facebook aspect, its not necessary, but these blog posts do have a heavy Facebook influence. The amount of knowledge shared is wonderful. Here are just a couple of examples.

A hazelnut developing 19 July.

A Chicory Field on 21 July, identified via the hive-mind. “I wonder if it was planted/sown or if it has just taken over the field? you sometimes see it on roadside verges too” one seeker mused and another thought “I think chicory too”. Little snippets like this happened many, many times, and each time it helped the group to connect a little more. One seeker told us they were “Enjoying to growing feeling of being part of a community.” in Summer.

I originally planned the connect aspect of the project to be purely about connecting to the nature around you, and it evolved to be more. That’s exciting, when an idea starts to find it’s own path.

Season; 23 – 28 July: The Hollyhock Grows Tall

By Summer, our seekers were confidently going off-piste. Sharing what they noticed as they looked for the seasons but not always sharing the seasons!

One seeker found a clump of mushrooms, and titled the picture ‘Bleeding Fairy Helmet’ thankfully, as I don’t know about you but my mushroom identification skills leave a lot to be desired. A newly sheered sheep made an appearance and this season the group had long discussions about invasive and dangerous plants like this Himalayan Balsam, spotted and photographed on the 24 July. I recognise the plant by its smell mostly, it’s a sickly sweet smell which immediately reminds me of walks in my childhood but I have no idea why.

The weather was also noticed, although sadly not much sunshine was found. That tricky Great British Summer again.

The 26 July saw our seekers drawn to water, with both of the above photographs taken then. The water level was high for summer, do you remember the weather? It was really mixed.  “A very poor July weather wise so far” one seeker told us.  Another said “July has just been so atypical this year! Up on the Bowland Fells we have had very little other than heavy cloud & rain, with some fierce winds.” and another explained “A rather wet July , lots of mist on Pendle Hill. Then a sudden break in the cloud gives you such amazing views. Has been cool in the evenings.”

On the 28 July they found rainbows. Which kinda proves how mixed the weather was. 72 Seasons in one day? Not quite. One person did say “Perhaps we really do need 72 seasons – the weather is so changeable.”


Season; 29 July – 2 August: Damp Earth, Humid Heat

Another season which is a tricky one to photograph. While I mention that, how well has Cath Ford, our artist, done? She has represented concepts really well throughout. I’m sure there must be a few head scratching moments when I send her the titles, but I don’t see that in what comes back. It all feels beautiful, and right, and often seamless and timeless, like that image has always been a part of that season, and Cath revealed that to me.

Our seekers loved the images too  “The illustrations were ‘spot on’ And illustrated the seasons well.” one seeker told us in Summer, “Love the images – they are really inspiring and draw me in.” continued another and “The illustrations were brilliant” and “Love the pictures of each season” and we could go on!

A cloudy Pendle Hill 30 July. There is a famous book called ‘Mist over Pendle” and it’s such an apt title. I often think of it, as I see Pendle peeking from the mist.

As we left July and entered August, our seekers kept taking notice. Flowers were spotted.

Both of the above were taken on 1 August. The ‘Mallow Half and Half Petals’ attracted some attention, as the group tried to work out what caused the unusual colouring? “virus infection and complicated genetic effects ( epigenetics) are other possibilities. Whatever the reason it’s interesting and Beautiful.” was the ultimate consensus.

And I dug up some potatoes I’d grown and took a moment to show off!

Oh these potatoes, they look so innocent, but in reality… I have a four year old son, and during lockdown we planted these potatoes together. We checked on them most days, and even gave them a bit of watering. I taught him how to earth up the potatoes. We talked about them and about eating them for four months. Then, when they were cooked, said 4 year old refused to even taste one. Aaargh, Kids!!

Season; 3 – 7 August: The Breeze is Hiding

I mentioned that we keep the seasons which get more than 50% agreement. Some are only just over the 50% but a decision needs to be fairly applied. This was one of those slightly more controversial seasons. One seeker told us “The weather has been different each day recently from calm and still to stormy.” and another was blunter, “The breeze was most definitely blowing, not hiding!” which did make me laugh at the time!

Season; 8 – 12 August: Blackberries Stain Fingertips

This is a new season and replaced ‘a cool wind blows’ as less than 50% of our seekers agreed. One person explained there was a  “Warm wind blowing.” and another said “During this period we had just about the only day so far in 2020 when there was NO noticeable wind or breeze at all!” which again, I loved. I do really like the honesty of our seekers, and I sometimes think they like the seasons I get completely wrong more than the ones I get right! The process by the way, when we have a gap, is that I read all the comments from this season and have a look at what people were sharing at that time. There is usually one thing that is mentioned most. This season was Blackberries. I wanted a description linked to an action, as it is surrounded by two more passive, watching type seasons. I actually really love the description I came up with in the end. Is that too big headed?

This image of Blackberries was taken on 8 August.

While talking about the 8 August, our seekers enjoyed chatting about the old aide memoir of cut the lavender back to 8 inches on the 8 August (8 month). We mostly agreed this maybe was more suitable for further south gardens. “Not cutting mine back……it is covered in bees and the flowers are not over yet” one seeker explained.

Here is a lovely picture of Lavender in Sunshine taken on 8 August, just to confirm the point!

Ahh. The Great British Summer is back. ‘Foggy View’ taken on the 8 August. Lots of different weather in different parts of our area on 8 August.

Wildlife spotting continued;

Caterpillars spotted on the 11 August and Chicken on a wall spotted on the 13 August. Quite intrigued about the chicken! I don’t remember noticing this at the time. Do you think there are some hidden steps, or is the garden much higher? Is there an intrepid chicken run type flying contraption just out of shot? It feels like there is a story here. I would have asked more questions had I spotted that one!


Season; 13 – 17 August: Morning Sunshine Lights the Grass

All of these images were taken on the 13 August, the day the new season began. The third one is such a close match to Cath’s drawing.

It’s lovely when people remember the previous seasons.

Feeding bees, and dappled sunshine spotted in the forest, both on the 15 August.

Sometimes it’s just what catches peoples eyes, and this bright red poppy is certainly eye catching!

Poppy photographed on 16 August.

Season; 18 – 22 August: The Apples are Ready to Harvest

Taken on the 19 August I think this photograph works particularly well with Cath’s drawing. I feel like I can put my hand into the image, and pick an apple. Do you know how to tell if an apple is right? You hold it in your hand and twist ever so gently and if it is ready, it comes away easily. If you have to yank it away from the tree, it’s not ripe.

Season; 23 – 27 August: The Sunflower Stretches High

All of the above were taken on 23 August, the sunflowers were stretching high against lovely sunny blue skies.

Season; 28 August – 1 September: Earth and Sky Begin to Cool

Another tricky image. I’m starting to think I put all the difficult ones together! People did share images which evoked feelings though. It’s a season of change, and you can see warmth and coolness here and transitions too, with a sunny canal shot from the 29 August, a tree leaves image which feels colder also from the 29 August and a ‘Spectacular Sunset’ taken on 30 August.

Season; 2 – 7 September: The Orange Leaves Start to Show

There is a poignant feel to this season, as the leaves start to change. There is also a quote, unattributed, and often misquoted (possibly by me) that the trees are about to show us “how beautiful it is to let things go”. Do you feel this? I’m not sure I do yet. But I do know that 72 seasons has made me enjoy winter and autumn and to look forward to every change, not to miss the days before. Spring and Summer will always have my heart, but I’ve learned to see the act of noticing change as the important part.

These leaves were spotted on 5 September. Don’t forget this is a taste of Autumn to come, not full autumn yet, as this next image shows. Tomatoes ripening in the sunshine. I can almost smell the warmth of that spot nestled by the dry stone wall.

Tomatoes growing in a photograph taken on 6 September.

Season; 9 – 12 September: Spider Webs Glisten

This was another season which was better in real life. Many people spotted the webs and this season received 97% agreement overall. However, the wispy-thin-ethereal-ness of spider webs are not so easy to capture on a photograph. Our seekers did manage though, just a little later. Practice makes perfect possibly?

Elderberries from 12 September and  Fox and Cub, a wildflower from 12 September

The group carried on connecting this season in other ways. There was a lively discussion around Elderberries. One person asked “Haven’t you got to be careful about elderberry cordial? I’ve seen something somewhere about there being something unpleasant in it which can be a problem when you don’t know how much is in the berries themselves.” and another, answered “Wikipedia link and others say that the plant contains compounds that generate cyanide. Various reports of poisoning, also seems to be little evidence of health benefits.” Although, confession time again, I’ve made elderberry cordial every autumn for three or four years now and I am convinced it helps me catch less colds. That could well be a placebo effect!

Also on the 12 September, this photograph of Holly Berries.

Some of our seekers really do discuss timing and the changes in nature, almost having a sense of the pattern of the world. One person noticed that here saying “amazing that the holly berries are already red.” and another explaining “They do seem to be reddening quite early. I also spotted some less “ripe” berries too.”

Season; 13 – 17 September: Tree’s Drop their First Leaves

90% of people agreed with this season, but few photographs were shared. Maybe everyone was busy with back to school and work routines and there wasn’t time to go and explore, just to notice?

Great photograph of a Honeybee in Passion Flower was shared on the 14 September. One of our seekers explained “Pleased to see this honey bee working the passionflower in my garden. She was there for ages. Hoping she passes on the message. They haven’t got long now before they have to hunker down in preparation for winter.” One seeker agreed, “it’s a stunning flower very exotic looking.” Another replied “Our garden has been so busy with bees and coloured butterflies today. So good to see . Didn’t manage to get a pic.”

Butterfly photograph taken on 15 September.

And another seeker captured a butterfly photograph for the other seeker who didn’t get one. Isn’t that a fine example of good sharing!

Spider webs had a surprisingly long season, with people spotting them and remembering them all the way through September.

One seeker found these fantastically lit examples in a field on the 14 September. I really love the way the sunlight picks them out.

21 September a spider in its web is found!

29 September was the best day for Spider webs, maybe an important date in the arachnid calendar? I think this is a really important set of photographs as it shows you can look for nature and the seasons from the wildness of huge vistas or in your back garden or just walking along a street. That’s the most special part of it, it’s everywhere, and persistent, and beautiful, and, easy to miss.

Season; 18 – 22 September: The Swallows Leave

They did leave, one seeker said “Think ours have gone 😢” and another “I’ve not seen mine for quite a few days now” and one reported a friend from Whalley had confirmed this “the swallows have left 😥 there must have been 150 on the wires last night. It’s so quiet without them.” Although this felt like a bit of a sad season, it’s important to try and get some balance. Without them leaving would we notice the return as much? And, think of that, 150 gathered on the wires. Like a huge party! 

Season; 23 – 27 September: Thunder Lowers it’s Voice

One of my favourite bits about this season was how our group all support each other – including me, and Cath Ford too. Cath posted on this one “Right, anyone got any thoughts about how I can draw thunder? These sound-based seasons are a challenge.” And we all rallied round, and talked mostly about lightning! Being no help whatsoever as it turned out!

What do you think of the final drawing? I spent a moment looking at it then, and it certainly raised a feeling of being ‘unsettled’. I love it when art provokes a feeling.

Both swan photographs were taken on 26 September. As an aside this season we had a discussion around swans. One seeker explained “The swans on the canal near me had four babies grow all the way up this year. Every time I walked down there it always made me smile to see they still had four. I have been taking pictures of them all year and they have genuinely turned into my lockdown pals!” and another “The Skipton Canal Basin swans have managed 11 cygnets this year. All thriving”

There are no seasons about Swans, as they can’t be easily spotted in everyday life. Obviously that’s different if you live near a canal, but making this project accessible to everyone is a really important part of it.

Season; 28 September – 2 October: Black Elderberries Dance in the Wind

This was our last season of the quarter of the year that mostly relates to Summer. Our 72 seasons don’t easily match the established four, they are much more subtle and ever-changing.

This image of elderberries was taken on 28 September. Another seeker did capture a fantastic video of them dancing in the wind, but I can’t seem to share a video from a closed Facebook group.

29 September (Spider Web Spotting Day) was also time to spot a Poisonous Mushroom.
One seeker explained “May be beautiful – but highly poisonous!!!” and another “Oh dear! From my childhood (and I’m very old!) my parents (who were experts (???) ) told ne not to touch them and if I did and licked my fingers I’d get a very upset stomach. My fungus book (with perhaps 1,000 varieties to choose from) indicates that its a Shaggy Ink Cap (or Lawyers Wig) which seems reasonable. Of course the fact that i’m still here (and do pick and eat wild mushrooms) indicates that they must have got something right!”

I think that’s another important point. When we first started discussing this project, we used to talk about things like how we used to know nature better and modern life has made us a bit too far removed from it. I don’t think I talked about mushrooms with my oldest son? But because of this project, I know I have with my youngest. And, I’m so proud that we have managed to put a group together who have that knowledge and can share it, or learn it.

Autumn next. I shall be writing up that adventure shortly!


Please note all photographs have been image described in their captions, to make sure this post is accessible to the widest possible audience.

If you have any questions or thoughts on this blog post, please send me an email at – I’m afraid I had to turn comments of, as it was just getting filled with spam robot stuff which no-one wants to see.


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.



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 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.