Tuesday, 3 February 2009


Sunrise over the snow from the garden this morning. . . Stunning.

We had a pathetic amount yesterday, but it more than made up for that overnight and we woke up to a goodly blanket of it and as it's been snowing most of the morning, we have about 6" outside now. I went out with my camera after an early breakfast and walked to the top of the hill and back, and then carried on down the hill and along by the river. It was magical. The whole landscape looks so different under snow and it seems to peel away the present and reveal the past - the landscape as it truly looks. Mini blizzards of snow were blown from trees and hedgerows by fingers of soft wind playing the branches like a harp. Animal tracks showed where rabbits had passed. Several together by our field gate, running this way and that, helter-skelter and back over the bank and hedge. Seen singly, they are two long slots where the hind feet have been and a double mark together where the forepaws have rested. On the bend a fox had slid down the bank and crossed the lane up the Lime Kiln field trackway in search of a meal. Bird tracks criss-crossed our garden and they had been up to the cat bowl on the porch to check it out - jackdaws these, they are so nosy.

At top of the hill, but too cloudy to see Black Mountain.

This is the rabbit version of Edvard Munchs' "The Scream"!!!

Mr Fox passed this way . . .

Down by the river, the snowlight robbed all colour from the scene and gave me shades of grey . . .

We have snow so rarely that I am like a big kid with it and have to be out exploring. My Ag. Lab. ancestors would doubtless have thought me completely mad, especially the ones who lived through the Blizzard in the West, which began the night of March 9th 1891. Dartmoor author Eden Phillpotts lived through it too and wrote his experience into his novel "The American Prisoner" (my copy is signed by its owner in 1915). Several American prisoners have escaped onto the moor from Dartmoor Prison (the story is set a hundred or more years earlier). They are struggling "in the very shadow of death where Childe the Hunter's ruined cenotaph had risen, and where legend pointed to the sportsman's place of passing even on such a night, and in such an hour" (in fact, by Foxtor Mire . . .) "There was a sudden rent in the snow-clouds at this moment, for out of heaven burst a blast so awful that it tore the inky curtains of the storm, swept the air clear along its hurricane ways and brought a fleeting glimmer of light to earth. In the black chasm opened on high reeled suns, and the flames of bygone ages flashed into the eyes of dying men. Then these silvery star-fires were swallowed up again, and the tempest, shrieking like a fury, tumbled its pall over them to lift it no more. Yet in that blast another light than those of the indifferent universe had touched upon Cecil Stark's fainting eyes. Dear as the smile of a friend, as the sound of a voice, as the hand of a man strethced to save, he had marked a ruddy flash from one little window high aloft on the western face of Fox Tor Farm. Like a lighthouse lamp it hung above the chaos. It flashed serene and steadfast; then the blizzard thundered down again, and it vanished behind the snow."

And: "The snow no longer fell; the sky was clear, yet lacked colour; the wind, sunk from its sustained fury, now uttered gigantic but irregular sighs and slept between them. When it blew, snow-wreaths puffedd aloft in little spirals, and deep white snow-banks slipped and cracked. Like streams of ink the rivers wound beneath, and every rush and briar beside them bent under its proper wweight of snow. The glare of the earth upthrown made Mr Putt's eyes smart. A bitter, steely cold still held the Moor, and every man was wrapped up in such thick garments as he possessed. Mr Beer wore one of his wife's shawls wrapped round his ears, while each labourer had fashioned himself haybands to protect his legs. . . . "Us might so soon seek storm-foundered sheep or steer as a man," declared Putt, "I'll be tissicked up wi' brownkitty again to-night, an' nobody to care a cuss whether my breathing be hard or easy." . . . (I assume the "brownkitty" was medicine or booze!)

Needless to say, like C Henry Warren, Eden Phillpotts is another author I look out for. My dad - a Devon man descended from long generations of Devon men - said that Eden Phillpotts knew the Moor like the back of his hand, like Crossing and Worth did.

P.S. My son and I have just had another snow walk as the sun was making it thaw quickly on trees, roads and buildings. Photos tomorrow.


Goosey said...

There are so many photo opportunities with this weather, and yours are lovely.The world seems almost monochrome for a while.

Anonymous said...

Hoe different your landscape looks with its covering of snow. But just as magical.

Cheryl said...

We have had a quite a lot of snow here to......more is expected......I to have enjoyed that which nature has revealed to me......I love the photographs by the stream, magical
Have fun out there......

Morning's Minion said...

"Tissicked up." The phrase took my fancy so I did a search--got into a copy of an old magazine--Bailey's--full of sporting news and stories written in dialect which I take to be Dorset or Somerset or some such. Sent the link and a quote from the story to your e-mail. "Tissicked up wi' brownkitty" I take to mean something like crouped up with bronchitis! Sounds a right fearful ailment!

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Oh that beautiful,glistening white stuff!
Tis calling my name!
We are inour third week nearly of a record breaking heat wave...That snow looks glorious

Bovey Belle said...

Minion - WELL DONE - dogged American determination discovers "brownkitty" is bronchitis! I thought it was a medicine to treat something similar!!! I can see you need NO leading down my avenues of research.

Cupcakes - wish I could wave my magic wand and bring you to our beautiful valley right now - you would certainly appreciate the coolness after your roaring oven like temps.

Goosey - I ended up having two walks yesterday - went out with Danny after lunch. I am waiting for what is going to be dumped on us late tonight before we go out exploring again.

Cheryl and WSC - I will, admittedly, get a bit fed up with it when we can't get out after the next lot falling. I get cabin fever - my husband is quite happy to potter around at home, but I go stir crazy after a bit!