Thursday, 5 February 2009

More snow tales - tell me when you're bored . .

Just a few of snow pics from Tuesday afternoon, when Danny and I had a walk along the fields by the river.
A rapid thaw of the branch-snow led to this speckled effect beneath, reminding me of a white strawberry . . .

Along the field beside the river, which is now being allowed to regenerate.

Snow-magic beside the river.

We followed in the fox's footsteps.

A craggy island mid-river, where the otters play.

I borrowed Danny's laptop yesterday and was able to open my CD-ROM of the Blizzard in the West, and jotted down some notes. Apparently the winds were hurricane-force and that, combined with the heavy snowfall, is what really did the damage. On Mutley Plain, Plymouth, women and children were blown off their feet and half suffocated with the rush of snow-laden wind. People described the wind and snow "so fierce, it was like inhaling icicles." Chimneys crashed, roofs were ripped off, and the wall of one building collapsed, leaving the mistress of the house clinging to broken floorboards at the edge of what had been her children's nursery. Another falling chimney resulted in a house-fire, where the flames were so tremendous it was like a furnace.

Lambs were born under the snowdrifts and were still alive when rescued - older ones began grazing straight away, especially after a bottle of gin was passed amongst them to perk them up! Elsewhere a horse had been buried by drifting snow, and was dug out after a night's burial, and was alive but cold. Near Bickleigh, hens were covered in snow and one had laid two eggs whilst incarcerated.

On the train from Princetown to Plymouth, passengers were snowed in on board for 36 hours, when the train hit huge drifts and could go no further. "The snow beat in our compartment through closed doors, ventilators and windows so much that in a few minutes I had 2" of snow on my umbrella. We stuffed paper, handkerchiefs and cloth into every hole or crevice we could."

In "A Welsh Childhood", Alice Ellis Thomas writes of snow:

"If it snowed . . . you could go out sledging down the field, taking care to turn sharply before you slammed into the iron bedstead that formed part of the fence at the bottom of the best run. One year it snowed so much that the lanes filled up and you walked on the crest of the hedges. The sea froze too, and the adults didn't like it, but for irresponsible children the conditions were ideal.

There is a story from further inland about another occasion when snow filled the lanes. A man was going home one evening when he saw a funeral procession in the distance. He pressed aside to keep out of the way, but as it drew closer he knew it to be unreal, for the mourners and bearers were treading the air, their slowly stepping feed on a level with the hedge-tops. It was already deep winter and the nedt week it snowed until the lanes were full. A neighbour died and the cortege had to make its way to the graveyard walking above the hedgerows. It is not related how they managed to bury the body." (Taken from: "A Welsh Childhood" by Alice Thomas Ellis).

Which reminds me of a tale associated with the Warren House in, on the Moreton to Postbridge Road on Dartmoor. "At the end of a spell of wintry weather, when the moors had been covered in snow for weeks, visitor called at the inn in search of overnight accommodation. He was shown to his room, in which was a large chest. The visitor stared at it for ages wondering what treasures it might contain until, eventually, his curiosity got the better of him. As he listed the heavy lid, he had the shock of his life: inside was a corpse with an extremely white, ghostly face. Thinking he had uncovered a murder victim, he rain downstairs screaming. Almost nonchalantly, the landlord said, "Don't worry, 'tiz only feyther." 'Father' had died a few weeks earlier; his corpse had been salted down to preserve it until the weather relented, and it could be carried for burial at the parish church many miles away across the moor." (Taken from: "Dark and Dastardly Dartmoor" by Sally and Chips Barber.)


Preseli Mags said...

Eeek! My hair's standing on end after that last tale. What a shock that poor traveller had.

I love the thawing snow pictures. Our snow is still well and truly here. The novelty is beginning to wear off a little now.

I'm really enjoying your snow tales and especially love that line "for irresponsible children the conditions were ideal". The conditions are pretty good for irresponsible children now, but it'll have to be colder yet forthe sea to freeze!

Anonymous said...

Never bored to read what you have to say, Bovey. Thankyou, too, for the lovely pics, beautiful as ever.

Morning's Minion said...

Definitely not bored! The New England winters of my childhood have become a collage of memory, rather as Dylan Thomas wrote, I can't recall if it snowed for 12 days and nights when I was six, or 6 days and nights when I was twelve. My Dad was the road commissioner and took full responsibility for plowing the miles of dirt roads. I would wake at night to hear the plow rig growling away under my window and my Dad and his helper down in the kitchen having soup and sandwiches.
Here in Wyoming we live in the foothills of the Wind River mountain range and the only way "out" is over a mountain pass in either direction. Winter journeys are very carefully planned.

thelma said...

Absolutely gorgeous photos of the snow. Remember the 1960's snow and trudging over the fields and through drifts as a teenager to feed my horse and donkey; Must admit its difficult to get out though at the moment, Bath has a very reduced bus service, half the shops were closed yesterday, it seems to have hit the West country pretty bad...but I bet not as bad as Wales ;) Thelma

Moon Daisies said...

Hi, enjoyed your lovely snowy pictures, we went up Dartmoor this morning where the snow was knee deep, it was really beautiful.