Writing in blood
The Book of Snow, 1

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

The Snow Dance

It's the first big snow of the season here on Dartmoor -- a magical, wonderful thing to wake up to. The hills are covered, the trees are sheathed in white, and as I write this, it's still coming down. This post is late because I spent the whole morning out in the woods and up on the hill with Tilly: an utterly enchanting Snow Queen's Realm. But alas, the pictures here aren't of that journey, and here's the reason why:

First Tilly and I walked in the woods (a snow white, holly green fairyland), then we made our way out to the open hill, where snow was falling thick and fast. I'd had the idea of taking photographs on the very spots where I'd shot yesterday's pictures -- which would, I thought, be a lovely way to show the landscape's overnight transformation. This, however, required a long, steep hike, made treacherous by thick, unbroken snow. Tilly was dashing about in mad delight, but I struggled and several times almost gave up -- slipping and sliding, huffing and puffing, tripping over brambles and battered by the wind. I made it to the higher path at last, pulled out my camera, and....

And nothing.

Black dog in white landscape

I adore my new camera, but it does have one flaw: the little mechanism that opens the battery compartment is not particularly secure. Somewhere in the woods or on the hill the little bugger had slid open once again, and the battery had dropped out. (Or else those pesky snow faeries had snatched it away, the little tricksters!)

I retraced by steps twice (so that's three journeys up and down a steep, snowy slope), but the battery was nowhere to be found, buried somewhere in a blanket of white. Tilly, meanwhile, thought this was a terrific game, going up and down and up and down again, and she was having a splendid time, surfing through the drifts like a little black snow seal. 

 After the third climb, I admitted defeat. The battery was good and truly lost (and that darn little thing alone was worth what my entire old camera had cost).  But clever me, I'd recently purchased a back-up battery, which was sitting back in the studio. So I slipped and slid down the hill once again (Tilly running in excited circles around me), made it through the woods and over the stream and back to the studio at last...and only then discovered that the camera company had sent me the wrong one.


Howard & Tilly cross the stream, 2010

So the pictures above aren't from today at all, they're from a similar storm two years ago. I'll venture out into the snow again, no doubt, with the little old point-and-click camera that I'd been using up until last month (when Ellen & Delia gave me the fancy new one for my birthday, bless them, as their very sweet way of supporting this blog). And I've just ordered a new new battery...

...which, of course, won't be delivered until the very storm I want to photograph has passed and the roads are passable again.

Ah well. That's life.

The video above (which some of you will have seen) was shot in January 2010, when Tilly was six months old. It's footage from a camera little better than a cell phone so it's not exactly a work of art, but it captures Tilly's very first experience of snow. There are no special effects, the film hasn't been speeded up in any way, that's really how quickly and madly she jumps and dashes about when she's excited. (Prime example: the "Snow Dance" photo above.)

She's still like that, still a puppy when it comes to snow. And she's a happy girl today.