I took an early afternoon walk in downtown Palo Alto yesterday. Visited friends at the gallery, watched shoppers and families in the Sunday-After-Holiday quiet that pervaded the streets. Music floated out of an alcove in front of the the bookstore as I approached … I turned in, sat, and listened for a while. Of course I took out the camera. But I was more interested to listen to the music. The camera sat on the table in front of me, waiting.


Two students from the San Francisco Conservatory. They played very very well, the air shimmered with their music. A wonderful duet. 

The alcove walkway is a passage from street to store. Dozens of people walked through. I was struck with how many people, intent on their own affairs, did not seem to even hear them … few even glanced in their direction. The man in the corner table behind them, deep in reading his book, also seemed utterly disconnected from the music filling the space. 

Until they stopped. They looked at each other for a moment, seemed to quietly laugh at some secret joke, and then the reader stood, applauded, and thanked them. People rushed in from the street and the store sides of the alcove to tell them how beautiful the music was, drop some money in their instrument case, applaud for a moment. I spoke with them for a few moments, thanked them for the performance, returned to my seat to collect my things. 

And then everyone was gone again. The reader went back to his book. The two violinists looked at each other again quietly, took a breath, changed their music and began to play once more. Everything was as before. 

My camera made a click. I rose and walked on.