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Her World

Joy in the Wilderness

October 11, 1987|JUDITH MORGAN | Morgan is a La Jolla free-lance writer. and

I am just recovering from another bout of cabin fervor, a giddy state of wilderness joy to which I am highly susceptible.

It comes when I stay in a log hut in the woods, and it ravages both sense and sensibility.

The symptoms are as clear as mountain air: I shiver with pleasure and have an urge to light fires. My toes tingle; my cheeks flush. I smile at odd times, and then sigh. My behavior is rash. I break out in song.

This may simply be a natural reaction to vast doses of peace and quiet, and freedom from city constraints. Still, my brand of cabin fervor makes being lovesick seem like a sneeze in the dark.

The most recent case struck in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. I was returning, after too many years, to that rustic circle of cabins known as Jenny Lake Lodge. My heart began racing as I gazed at craggy peaks that soar above 13,000 feet.

Then a deep calm welled up as I turned the key of a cabin called Gentian, one of 30 with wildflower names, scattered beside an alpine meadow.

A yearning for the familiar runs rampant in the course of my fever; it becomes vital to remember where the smooth pegs are on which you hang your hat. Will the hooked rugs still be there to warm your bare toes at night? Will the elk herd still bugle at 3 a.m.?

It is comforting that pine logs are stacked on the front porch near the rocking chairs, with sticks of dry kindling nearby, because indecision is part of the syndrome. Do you start the wood stove with yesterday's Casper Star-Tribune or the Teewinot park service news? Do you nap before opening that hefty novel or after? Do you snap a picture of those mountains pink with dawn, or wait for another day?

At Jenny Lake Lodge, other choices must be faced in its fabled log dining room, where the roof was raised this season to expand the comfortable lounge and enhance the Teton view.

After ignoring hot oatmeal all my life, I found myself ordering it with toppings of brown sugar and raisins. I sampled the breakfast specialty--a crisp Belgian waffle with maple or blueberry syrup. Peaches and melons from the nearby valleys of Idaho proved irresistible.

I rode bicycles or horseback in lieu of lunch so that I could savor the star-spangled dinners. From Western spring lamb to fresh trout meuniere, the tastes were dazzling. The Austrian chef let his chocolate roots show when whipping up carts full of pastries. No wonder I craved morning hikes.

Now the snows are starting to blow in Wyoming, and Jenny is closed until June. I try not to dwell on it when I'm awake, but at night, sometimes, I return.

Cabin fervor brings endless dreams. There is nothing you can take for it--except another trip.

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