Europeanness. I like the word. The dictionary defines it as the quality or characteristic of being European, but I don’t think that captures the meaning at all. Europeanness is one of those words like love and beauty and home that can not be defined in a single sentence. It’s so many things. Europeanness is bicycle baskets and faded shutters, wobbly coat racks and storks’ nests atop telephone poles. Europeanness is stone fences, bistro tables, weathered window frames, and garden gates tumbling with morning glory. Europeanness is noon church bells, musty basements, gazing at stained glass windows, and merchants with dried-apple faces selling hand-picked vegetables at early morning markets. Europeanness is the smell of burning leaves in autumn, swirling iron balconies, waiting on a country road behind a lazy horse and carriage, and June cornstalks so shiny in the afternoon sunlight that they look like they’ve been varnished.

And europeanness is flower boxes. They’re everywhere over here — on cottages, restaurants, and public buildings. Bright and colorful, they smile at you as you pass by. Nature’s welcome signs. Someday when I return to the United States, the first thing I’m going to do is drive to Home Depot, buy myself some flower boxes, plant some geraniums and petunias in them, and put them under all my windows. And when people pass by, maybe they will say, “Well, look at that house. It looks so European.” I hope so.

What does europeanness mean to you?



9 thoughts on “Europeanness

  1. Hm, good question. Colorfulness – different countries, languages, peoples. You can travel 500 km and be in another country where nobody speaks your tongue, and not many people speak English either. I like that it’s the cradle of culture (except for Egypt and China maybe). I like that no peoples were massacred or driven out of their homeland so that others can take that land (sorry, not trying to be judgmental. Although I guess some cases happened in Europe too, but 1500 years ago). Oh and colorful money :D

  2. All of what you said plus…cafes, pastry shops, bakeries with the smell of fresh bread all around, people walking everywhere, public transportations, some chaos yet life happening all around you…that is what it means to me and that is what I miss tremendously!

  3. I love your posts. My daughter married a Hungarian and currently resides in Budapest, which my husband and I have visited at least once a year since she moved there. Your observations and insights make me wish I was back in Budapest, even though I just returned from a 15 day visit. And the flower boxes are a delight. Thank you for the pictures.

  4. Coffee… not just the coffee but the whole ritual around it. Unlike the hustle and bustle of drive thru, drink it as fast as you can in the US, having coffee is an experience of settling down for a bit, connecting with a friend or even a stranger, and watching life go by… people, traffic, dogs, circuses… whatever might be passing by at the moment… you just relax and enjoy the moment… the now. :)

    • Love Budapest and all of Hungary but they don’t serve coffee there only Cubana kind of one ounce expresso….and try finding a flavored creamer. Not even in a star bucks.

  5. Hümmm… What does it mean to me?
    - Time to slow down….
    - Vintage and modern, old and new hand in hand. :)
    - Dolce far niente… (édes semmittevés)
    - Deep roots…
    - Even the smallest stone has it’s histiry.
    Probably thid. :)

  6. Europeanness is a certain reserve, while still being friendly. Old, but not broken down. Intelligent, without being loud about it. Always interesting, even when it’s a little too quiet. Movement, but not herky jerky. It is NOT a blaring radio, open rudeness, wasteful conversation or the utterly ridiculous.

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