Two houses down the street lives Rudi.
Rudi has been a member of the voluntary fire brigade since his youth. When he was around fifty he was rammed against the wall of a burning stable by a bull. His spine was severely injured and since then he has been in early retirement. His back is stiff and he has difficulties bending. Still, he likes to work and he has many contacts in the village and around.
He also likes to do some business.
When some farmer is cutting trees, Rudi will ask around the neighbourhood whether anyone would like some wood. During the next days you will see him transporting big chunks of wood around the street. He will also stay to help cut the wood, but he never gets around cutting his own.
During hunting season he will sell game. One year, when we were new to the neighbourhood we ordered some wild boar from him and he came around with half a boar, a big knife and hatched, a bottle of red wine for me and some beer for “the menfolk”. He insisted on me trying the wine, and after I confirmed that it was really, really nice he suggested that he order more for us, as his brother-in-law just happened to be friends with a wine dealer.
That day he stayed til after midnight, taking his time with the cutting, talking non-stop and opening one bottle of beer after the other. None of our discreet yawns or the not so subtle hints about having to get up early for work could keep him from telling yet another story about the hunting.
Not soon after Rudi started coming around each Tuesday, offering us fruit or vegetables for half of what you pay in the shops. We were a bit suspicious of his offer, but he simply placed a crate of veggies and fruit in front of us and told us to keep it. The Tuesday after we felt we owed him and bought some of his fruit. Since then Rudi has rung our doorbell each Tuesday and is terribly disappointed when we don’t take any. So, we have not lacked vitamins since moving to Hohenlockstedt and meeting Rudi.
Rudi lives in a small house down the street. His garden is overgrown. Old, mouldy wood, some forgotten pipes, an old chair, some metal boxes and other things are lying in his garden. There are flowers growing, but there are no flowerbeds. The grass on his lawn is only cut now and then. Some neighbours think that his place is a disgrace.
I have come to the conclusion that he simply doesn’t find the time to look after his own house, as he is far too busy helping others. You will see him wherever there is a house being built or a tree cut. His children are grown and living far away. His wife left him many years ago. He has got a big dog, a mongrel, and I can guarantee you that when I walk past with our dog on Sunday mornings his dog will be jumping over the fence to greet ours. Then it will not be long, until Rudi comes out of the house, asking, “are you going on a walk with Luna? I was just leaving myself with Rico” and off we go.