We live in a little German village where shops close their doors early in the evening and all day on Sunday.  The sun doesn’t set until after 10pm this time of year, and that leaves plenty of daylight for folks to go on leisurely after-dinner walks and bike rides with their families (which they do).

From our third-story window, I watch as one of my neighbors spends her days slowly working her way through her meticulous garden while another carefully hangs her laundry out to dry.  The market down the street only accepts cash, and the man who owns the restaurant around the corner recognizes us, already, taking the time to step outside to talk to us about the weather whenever we walk by.

Life is different here.  It moves along at a slower pace.

Aside from a couple of loaner pieces of furniture, a washer and dryer, dishes, and an odd assortment of toys we’ve collected from random places over the last few weeks, our house is still empty.  Our household goods are not expected to arrive for another couple of weeks, and that has certainly made life interesting, to say the least, with our almost-two-year-old and four-year-old boys.  In the meantime, I’ve been working to fill our days the American way: with plenty of activities, excitement, and distractions to keep us busy.

There’s an awful lot of stress in moving to a new place and having to start all over, again, but there’s a kind of freedom in it, too.  This go-around, I’d like to choose the activities and responsibilities that fill our days a little more carefully.  The more I observe, the more I learn about the people and the culture we are surrounded by, the more I find myself wanting to slow down, too.