Winter into Spring in Birchfields Park
This was the first of three seasonal workshops exploring Birchfrields Park - which stretches from Longsight over to Rusholme.. Today we were looking for signs of Winter moving into Spring. We were lucky with the weather after the non stop storms over the weekend, it was dry and the sun came out - which lifted our spirits. It felt very special to all be together in the sunlight and in nature.
We met at the Dickenson Rd/Anson Road entrance to the park next to the old gate house. We found a bench to give people a little rest as some of our group had already done a good walk just getting to the park. We moved as a group taking in the sunny path and stopping every once in a while to listen, look, take notice with our full attention. We noticed that even on the path nearest to the busy Birchfields Rd, we could still hear our own sounds, humming, coats rustling, footsteps of people passing by. These quiet sounds are the sounds that help us to locate ourselves in our environment. When these sounds are drowned out by traffic and loud noises we can feel anxious or uncomfortable. But even in the noisiest path in the park we could still hear these quiet sounds. Which is a very good sign! By the time we walked over towards the Brighton Grove entrance to the park we could barely hear any traffic, if was calm and peaceful and very still.
People were encouraged to bring whatever medium they wished to work in, so some people were collecting words to use later in poetry, some people were sketching or taking photos, or just taking it all in with their own senses.
We noticed: fallen sticks, fallen trees lying horizontally across the river and paths, we noticed the new paths that had been trodden into the grass to skirt around the blocked footpaths, bare trees standing strong against the bright blue sky, the snowdrops were out and in places lay a carpet of white at the foot of trees, later they will be protected from the sunshine by the leaf canopy of the trees keeping their bulbs cools and ready to come again next year.
We noticed the rushing sound of the stream, so we conducted a group sound walk across the little bridge over the water - usually a stream, but it was full like a river today. Gillian commented that as we walked from one side to the other across the bridge the sounds of our footsteps remained at the same level, but the sound of the flow of the river gradually increased and then decreased as we walked through. It is a little unique soundscape available to those who take notice. We can conduct this sound walk again next time and compare our experiences.
St James House is a registered home providing 24-hour care and accommodation for 15 persons with a learning disability and associated needs. The home is a converted church in Rusholme,
Everyone was glad to be out drawing and taking photos, noticing the last of the signs of Winter and the signs that herald the warmer weather and change of seasons. It was a very memorable afternoon which brought us all together and after a stroll through Winn's Walk across a boardwalk and around the little wetland area we came back to the Boulevard of Lime Trees and the group split, a few people going off to find some food before they went to TLC Poetry session at the studio and a smaller group of us walked back up to the Longsight entrance to wind our ways home. We are all looking forward to meeting together again in the next few months to continue to observe and capture the changing seasons in Birchfields Park.
With many thanks to our friends at Birch Community Centre for letting us use your facilities.