far too much writing, far too many photos

Spent most of Thursday traveling, nearly a full eight-hour shift from the time I left home in the morning to the time of arrival here. In this case, both legs of the trip (from Burlington, VT to Greensboro, N.C.) were short, 1-1/2 hours and an hour respectively, most of the day spent hanging around airports. You know the drill: you read, you watch people, you wait for flight announcements. Once boarding starts, you jockey for position. Mostly I people-watch — in this case, having returned from Spain a week and a half ago, that mostly means observing the differences between Americans and Europeans in manner, attitude, mode of dress. And there are differences, as you might expect. Every culture, every country has its way of dress, of presenting oneself, at least in my limited experience. Every culture certainly has its quirks.

Over the course of the last 40 years, Americans have gone from dressing stiffly, formally, without much style sense, to dressing casually, often extremely, outrageously so — frequently in variations of sneakers, jeans/khakis, sport shirt/t-shirt, windbreaker/fleece. That’s a generalization, of course, but a striking percentage of the travelers I saw during the course of the day wore some variation of the basic casual formula. Go to DeGaulle airport in Paris or Barajas in Madrid, Americans are easy to spot: sneakers (often white Reeboks or some equivalent), jeans/khakis, etc. Almost like a uniform.

The French and Spanish are more fashion-conscious, seeming to devote more time and care to how they look when they walk out of the house. Sneakers are becoming more common in Spain, though, with younger folks straying more and more from the standard look of the 30+ bracket. Piercing, tattoos, wilder modes of dress — common, at least in Madrid.

So they dress differently in Europe — who cares? Maybe no one. It’s just a noticeable difference, and interesting, at least to me.

I’m in Greensboro as I write this. When I arrived, the temperature had coasted up into the 70s, the sun shone, birds were everywhere, singing their hearts out. Yesterday dawned cool, gray, drizzly, staying that way most of the day. Today’s skies have been filled with clouds, dramatic ones, their movement overhead providing continual coming and going of blue sky and sunlight. Dogwood trees in full bloom are everywhere, with a dense concentration of blossoms like I’ve never seen anywhere else. I like it.

Had some fine barbecued pork for lunch at Stamey’s, a local joint — a kind of barbecue that doesn’t use tomato sauce. Lip-smackin’ good, as stupid as that may sound.

Flowering bushes and trees provide vivid color as one drives through the streets of the city. Greensboro is green and getting greener, the air moist and soft. A comfortable place to be at this time of the year.

Right, I’ll stop — I’m rambling with little real focus.

More tomorrow.

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