My husband and I have temporarily relocated to Germany, at least through September but maybe for longer. We've settled into a furnished apartment in a lovely area in the hills of Stuttgart. It's a vacation-like setting where one hears the constant chirp of birds over the low whoosh of a nearby, but not too near and not too busy, roadway.
Today it is raining. The many trees around us are green and dripping with moisture. It's early, and people are leaving for work so the bird chirps are combined with the occasional sound of doors closing and car engines starting.
As I was getting ready for my day, the morning sounds were overcome by the sharp tone of a bell - not a churchbell, but a hand bell. At first I thought it was the landlady calling for her cats, but then I heard a male voice calling out something I couldn't understand. It was clear that he was announcing something. I looked out my window to see a man in green coveralls walking up the street towards a produce truck. A market on wheels! The back of the truck was set up just like a produce stand. It was open on three sides with colorful, layered tiers of vegetables and fruit. A canvas canopy was rolled up at each of the openings. Since we live in a residential area in the hills, going to the market means walking down the steep hill - and of course trudging back up laden with heavy bags. But apparently at least this one produce truck comes to us. I would have run down the stairs and out the door to buy some fruits and vegetables but I'd just gotten out of the shower. I also don't know German very well (yet) and am very shy at trying to communicate - I know, I know, I won't learn if I don't try but it was early, and I was low on euros anyway. So instead I watched out the window as a woman approached the truck. I watched as she spoke to the man and he retrieved a carton of eggs and a few small plastic bags of produce. She placed them in her bag (always have bags with you when you shop in Europe) and exchanged money and after a few "Guten Tags", that was that. Having no more customers, the produce man got back in his truck and left. I was amazed that nothing spilled out as he turned the corner and drove away. I heard the ringing of his bell a few streets over as he repeated his morning ritual.
Hopefully this is a weekly occurence so next week when I hear the bell ringing, I'll be fully dressed and able to grab my euros and my shopping bag and buy some produce.