Since July 14th, I have been in the San Francisco Bay Area, away from my beloved partner and peaceful environment In The Woods.

I am participating in the Midsummer Mozart festival. The musicians are the Bay Area’s best, and conductor George Cleve is considered to be one of the world’s finest interpreters of Mozart’s music. I am honored to be part of this group for the three-week season.

I am very fortunate to be able to stay with my dear violinist friend R.A. in Lafayette, whenever I have gigs in the Bay Area. It is a three-hour drive from my shack In The Woods, and is my home away from home; R.A. and her father always extend a warm welcome. I feel like part of the family here.

These three weeks are very intense. George demands a lot of energy from the podium. He also gives in equal measure. It is truly a magical experience to work with this man, and with such accomplished musicians.

We rehearse Monday through Wednesday nights at a lovely church in downtown Berkeley. Then we give concerts Thursday through Sunday, in various venues scattered around the Bay Area. The final concert of each week takes place at the church, which is our favorite place to play — like the Three Bears story, the acoustics are “just right”.

We begin our final week today, rehearsing Mozart’s opera “Abduction from the Seraglio”. It will be semi-staged. Both performances will take place at the California Theatre in San Jose.

I take the Bay Area Regional Transit (BART) train to Berkeley for the rehearsals. It’s a half-hour ride, followed by a fifteen-minute walk from the station to the church. I have become thoroughly accustomed to this system, after initial confusion at the payment kiosks, turnstiles and transfer points. The trains operate well most of the time. Occasionally there will be glitches such as stopping in the middle of the tracks to re-set the brakes, or riding very slowly over minor obstructions. But overall, I’d have to say that the trains are dependable and punctual.

A more vivid contrast to the peace and quiet of The Woods cannot be found. The Bay Area buzzes and hums with activity. The pace is quick and the numbers of people are extensive. I am always in shock the first day I arrive, but gradually settle into the faster rhythm and lack of privacy.

The only real drawback to this whole experience is being separated from James, who has remained at home to attend to various carpentry projects (very much needed!) and to take care of our cat Rupert. This is the longest we’ve been apart since his mother passed away in 1999, when he flew back to Florida for a couple of weeks.

We miss each other terribly but are being rational about the situation. It’s really best that James stays home, in view of the work that needs to get done on the land. We were basically gone during the month of June, doing Phantom in Sacramento and Music in the Mountains in Grass Valley, and couldn’t attend to the chores.

Another deterrent is that it now costs over $140 to fill the gas tank of the truck, our second vehicle.

Oh well. I will be home a week from today! To use 21st Century vernacular, I am SO looking forward to that.