The year I was eighteen, I worked in Yosemite National Park. On my days off, I would sometimes hitchhike up Highway 120 to a little meadow I'd discovered on a trip to Tuolumne. I never saw another person in that meadow; it was an oasis of perfect peace and solitude. I would stretch out on the grass and read for hours. I read Mark Twain, Emerson, George Eliot, I read Joan Didion and James Thurber. I read whatever I could get my hands on, borrowed, bought or traded. When the shadows began to lengthen and a chill crept into the air, I'd walk back to the highway, put my thumb out and hitch a ride back to the valley floor. Years later, when people asked me where I went to college, I didn't have a good answer, but I always thought of that meadow and everything I'd learned within its quiet green walls.