Every fall semester is the shock of the new. The courses repeat; the classrooms don't change; but every September there's a jolt. Partly it's the surprise of a long summer ending, the sudden intrusion of a social world into my solitude. For months I've quietly read and written, my afternoons organized around brewing tea, clipping hedges, and walking the dog. The sense of independence and freedom has been heady, and I don't give it up easily.