Going to Cable

One summer when I was a kid, perhaps 1990 or 1991, my great aunt enrolled me in nature classes in Cable, Wisconsin. They were held once a month and taught youngsters about wildflowers, animals, and respect for the earth. We would ride in her old tan Mercury Lynx into wilderness that seemed larger and more wooded than near my house; the area was hillier and covered with heavier, older trees. The woods seemed to hang over the narrow roads, some on hills that stretched into the distance. On either side of these roads, it seemed like one slight slip of the wheel would send the car plummeting into the ravine. The telephone poles were tall and felt straighter, pointing down into the crumbling earth. It was very green -- the trees were full of leaves and visible soil was clay red.

Cable was about an hour northwest of my hometown in Bayfield County, and the start of the Birkebeiner cross country skiing race. We must have taken highway 13 north to 77 and gone west. I have never returned, but years later I would take 77 east when I went to Ironwood, Michigan for basement punk shows at the Rat Cellar. The route wound its way through the Chequamegon National Forest past the small town of Glidden and other unincorporated towns, the blink and you'll miss 'em type, that dot the American landscape.
 To the north is the Porcupine Lake Wilderness, to the south is Hayward and the Round lake area. Beautiful woods abounds. Northern Wisconsin has some prime locations of old growth forests. I remember those classes, but I remember the journey more, traveling through woods that was even more mysterious than those near my house. The difference an hour can make in terrain, the difference an hour can make in feeling. I recall the quiet of those woods, the feeling of discovery, and the thick, straight trees as the tiny car shot north, and then west, and I sat with anticipation. I've been all over the North Woods as an adult, but I've never returned to Cable. I will do that soon, perhaps this summer, driving down highway 77, wandering through old growth, dipping my toes in my vision of forgotten America. Will it be like I remember it or like I imagine?

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