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?