One of the most popular of J.B. Priestley’s essays shared the joy he found in seeing the First Snow. He loved how snow transformed the landscape.
“The first fall of snow is not only an event but it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up to find yourself in another quite different … The very stealth, the eerie quietness, of the thing makes it more magical.”
The essay uses the language of fairytales, the house becoming a woodcutter’s cottage, local people elvish beings. It also makes me think of the appeal of Narnia, pushing through the fur coats to find an enchanted winter world.
Priestley found himself envying people who lived in places like Canada and have months of snow. But then he reflected that such snow, arriving on a predictable date, settling in for months, would become tiresome. Priestley preferred the fickleness of English weather, which can offer moments of wonder and surprise.
Want to read First Snow? After its original publication in the Saturday Review, the essay appeared in several Priestley collections: Apes and Angels (1928), All about Ourselves (1956), and Essays of Five Decades (1969). These crop up secondhand often, or try public libraries.