I awake to the feint sounds of chairs and tables being scraped into position outside the cafe below. It's too early for customers but the appearance of the seating and the lights inside tell me that the proprietors are busy preparing for the day.
Looking down at the street I notice another level of fallen leaves. I swear the trees have changed colour again overnight.
Now I can hear the distant ringing of church bells. That must have been the cue because the cafe door opens and it's ready for business. A little later the first of the baby brigade appears. Mothers, sometimes fathers, pushing their babies in every conceivable shape and size of pram. En route to the shops, or the bakery down the road. It's only a trickle now but soon it will be a steady stream.
And the cafe has it's first customer of the day. Sitting inside where it would be warm. Another mother walks by with pram. Judging by the packaging in her hands it looks like it was an early morning trip to the bakery. The intersection is punctuated by cyclists, walkers and the very occasional car.
The last brigade of the morning will come a little later as parents take their children to the school around the corner, often in seats on the backs of their bikes.
After dinner I curl up in one of the chairs by the window with my glass of wine to watch the world go by. I become a voyeur, but only to the degree that my subjects have allowed me.
Across the road on the first floor a woman is busily tidying up. Moving things from one room to another. Clearing a space on the table and cleaning it. Constantly in motion. A man momentarily comes into the room with a plate but quickly turns around and leaves again. The motion continues until she finally pauses at the table setting out plates as he returns with a pot and what looks like the same plate as before. To this point they've both been busy bees working independently. She strikes a match to light a candle. They lean in and slowly kiss before beginning their meal together.
Two floors up there is an incessant flashing. A photographer is working in his studio. He appears to be alone. At one point he jumps up as the flash goes off before hurrying across to check the camera. Experimenting? I saw photographers working downstairs by the entrance when I got back tonight. Maybe he was one of them?
Across the street there is a little cafe that looks as if it just happened one day. There is a constant stream of visitors popping in and out or sitting outside. One last coffee on the way home or drinks with friends. There are always people around. I hear the muffled speech and occasional laugh. Friends catching up, lovers spending time together. Clearly a treasured space by those who know.