I've enjoyed some lovely moments in Kirklees Parks recently watching people interact with my Signs of Life project. With a bit of help from eleven design I've repurposed plant ID plaques and made them into playful invitations to explore the park in a different way, hopefully prompting people to notice something new about their surroundings - or if it's their regular route they might notice the changes taking place around them.
It's human nature to 'tune-out' all the familiar things around us, but once we remember to pay attention it's endlessly fascinating how things change minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day. Breezes lift and drop the leaves in ever changing patterns, clouds change the yellow tones of a dandelion with flickering light and shade, caterpillars decimate leaves before your eyes, tree buds swell imperceptibly until suddenly the view is obscured by a bright canopy of new leaves.
Noticing these changes can be so helpful to our wellbeing and it's something I try to consciously do - sometimes I make an effort to notice the day-to-day changes in one bud on the rose by my door every morning and night as I leave and arrive home. When I do my regular walk, there are particular trees that I give a few moments of my attention, checking in, seeing what's happening today - I'm often rewarded with a serenade from a robin on the oak tree.
Taking time to notice the details in nature can be particularly helpful when we are feeling trapped or stuck in some way - try spending a few moments every day noticing what's happening in some small detail near your home (a bud, weed in a crack in the wall, moss in a shady corner) and at the same time check in to see how you feel in that moment. It can helps discover that a persistent difficult mood is actually changing and flowing more than we realise, with flickers or openings of lightness.
I'm always looking for triggers to interrupt my internal monologue and help me remember to pay attention to all the wonder around me - and hopefully Signs of Life might do that for one or two people in the park.
If you're near Kirklees and want to take a look for yourself you'll find them in Beaumont Park in Huddersfield, Wilton Park in Batley, Crow Nest Park in Dewsbury - and they'll be appearing in Greenhead Park in the centre of Huddersfield and Cliffe Woods in Clayton West in the next couple of weeks. There's no map or trail to follow, you need to make your own discoveries so take a flask of tea and enjoy the walk.