Winter Roads
Ahead was our own road, snow-covered and slippery, and we felt ready for the next adventure waiting along the way.
By Jerry Dennis
Illustration by Glenn Wolff

My son Nick and I were driving home one afternoon a few winters ago and came upon a car stuck in a snow bank. It was a snow-globe kind of day, with millions of big, wet flakes falling silently around us and so heavily that we could see them piling up on fence posts and telephone wires. Unfortunately, they were piling up as well on the roads. The driver had tried to turn onto a side road but must have been going a little too fast, for his car had slid through the intersection and plowed into the bank.

A man in a suit and tie stood in the snow, pushing against the front of the car, while a younger man in a tuxedo sat in the driver’s seat, accelerating the engine and spinning the wheels to no effect.

Nick and I pulled over and went to offer our assistance. As we approached, the driver — the young man in the tuxedo — leaned from the side window and explained with some urgency that he and his father were on their way to a wedding, his wedding, and they were already late. The ceremony was being held at a vineyard a mile down the road. I’d been there many times and knew it was a beautiful place to get married.

Winter isn’t exactly the high time for outdoor weddings in Michigan, but they aren’t uncommon in wine country, no doubt because vineyards are such picturesque places, even when blanketed with snow. The landscape is stunning then, the hills scored with rows of vine-posts and bordered by patchwork woods and orchards. Much of it is open terrain — a novelty in our part of Michigan — where the bones and sinews of the land are visible beneath the snow. Throw in the romance of wine-making and the charming idea of terroir, and it’s a great place to start building memories.

If one of those memories is being late for your wedding because you were stuck in a snowbank, so much the better. You’ll be telling that story for the rest of your life.

Nick and I put our shoulders to the grill and joined the groom’s father in pushing the car back onto the road. It’s what we do in winter — help one another meet the challenges that come when snow covers the roads and wind-chill puts water pipes and fingertips in peril.

But we were aware that there was more involved this time. We were helping nudge a young man into his future. It was waiting for him, just down the road, with all its joys and hardships, and he drove toward it eagerly, he and his father waving to us from their windows. Nick and I grinned at each other as we climbed into our car.

Ahead was our own road, snow-covered and slippery, and we felt ready for the next adventure waiting along the way.≈

BLUE Reflections columnist Jerry Dennis lives near Traverse City and has collaborated with fellow regional artist Glenn Wolff on many books including the national bestseller “It’s Raining Frogs and Fishes: Four Seasons of Natural Phenomena and Oddities of the Sky” (DCA, Inc.;