It has been forecast. My mum texts to confirm. As we sleep tonight, the clouds will gather silently above our heads and when we wake, the world as we know it will be transformed.
From bed, I focus on our curtains, assessing for a hint of pink. That’s always been the way to tell before. My curtains have blushed when there is snow outside.
It’s still too dark to tell. I quietly slip from bed into the freezing room, dress in whatever clothes I find on the floor, creep into the corridor, open the lounge door, tiptoe to the window, pull back the curtain and feel a rush of disappointment.
There is no snow.
But there must have been some somewhere. I make myself a tea and nestle into the sofa in an attempt to preserve my diminishing warmth. I switch on the iPad and start to search through Twitter.
Dartmoor. People are reporting snow in Dartmoor.
A webcam. I must check the rumours are true. I find one quickly, open the page and see a beautiful image. The silhouettes of winter trees and a wooden gate surrounded by untouched, golden snow.
The light in the scene is perfect. I curse myself for not getting out of bed at 5am and driving there for the sunrise. But then I remember that, up until now, I didn’t even know there was snow on the moors.
But it’s a long way to drive, and I am poor. Best then to stay put. It might snow closer to here another day.
I make myself a bowl of granola and hunker back down into my spot on the sofa. I’m cold now. I should really light the fire. I open the iPad back up and look at the snowy scene again. The light’s moved a little now. More of the ground is lit. Twitter is also displaying more snowy images. Some are pretty; pink and mauve skies drifting above silver hills. I look out the window again. Nothing but sunshine here.
Then it dawns on me. Snow is not that frequent in the west county. That’s why it’s so damn exciting when it does happen. A few years back, when I was living near Shaftesbury in Dorset, it snowed so much that I had to dig my car out of three foot drifts. The house I was in then was a mile of so up a partially wooded, fairly steep track. How I ever got my car out that night still evades me. But even though it was frightening, the excitement of the snow pervaded. It was bloody great.
That’s it. I must go. Having no money is no reason to give up on adventures. I make sure I have some food and water, a flask of tea, some more warm clothes, a camera and I’m off, heading west along the A35. Within five minutes there are cars covered in snow passing me, reminding me of slabs of cake layered in icing. By Honiton I can see snow on nearby hills and on the horizon are glimpses of Dartmoor, clear white against a cobalt sky.
It takes me a little longer to get there than expected and once I do, my travel is slowed significantly by the iced and slush ridden roads. Big four by fours tail my little car as I creep along the lanes. I can’t go any faster. I might slip off the road.
I find somewhere suitable to park and head off towards a high tor I can see. Nearby, a family are having a snowball fight. Their laughter is contagious. I smile and politely ask the sky if we could have more snow instead of rain. “Look how happy it makes everybody.” I urge.
But I hold no illusions. Already, on the horizon, I can see rain clouds. This snow is not going to last long. My pace quickens. I find a reflective pool and watch the clouds closing in in the water. I snap pictures with hardly any thought about composition. I want to keep some of this snow with me somehow. I fill up my water bottle with it too.
It’s already raining. The snow is receding all around me. Blue sky has faded to a strip in the east. Above and to the west, a heavy grey.
It’s time to go home.
I find the road again and discover that I’m further from my car than anticipated. As I begin my long trudge back the wind picks up. For a moment I can barely walk. The pressure of it against my body is too much. It is utterly freezing. I suddenly feel like an Arctic explorer. I wouldn’t have a chance in hell if I was stuck out here for long. The rain is battering my face in hard, icy droplets, the wind is whipping all my body heat away from me. I think of all the birds and animals that live up on the moors. They must be made of sturdy stuff.
By the time I drive home, the snow has all but gone. The landscape reminds me of the Arctic tundra, stretching out vast distances. Yet it is not bleak. Although the overriding colour is brown, there is something beautiful about the damp, cold moorland that surrounds me. It is, I muse, even more beautiful than it was in the snow.