Well, this isn’t the Deep Sun Café on Boulevard Carnot, Cannes, but the Starbucks in Writers Square, Denver, has plenty of seats available at the outdoor tables, umbrellas, and strong coffee in big cups. We have taken to heading over there each afternoon for a coffee and some reading, an echo of café life in France.
One thing I never saw in France: someone eating a sandwich or a donut while walking along the sidewalk. One thing that I’ve never seen here: a woman and her little dog sitting side by side at a café, taking turns sipping out of the same beer glass.
As I sat yesterday pondering the differences, it occurred to me that the only certain difference has to do with centuries. Our downtown neighborhood in Denver dates back to a gold rush in 1858. The history of Cannes dates back to 200 B.C. when the Romans settled a dispute between the Oxybians and their neighbors in Nice and Antibes. The settlement, according to one local version of Canne’s early history, involved selling the Oxybians into slavery and setting up the port as a Roman trading center.
So you have to imagine Writers Square in the year 4205 to imagine a place with as much settled history as Cannes. By then the Tabor Center will probably be gone, along with the free mall shuttle on 16th Street. No doubt some wars will have occurred, perhaps a fierce and futile stand of civilized Coloradans against barbarian hordes from the Kingdom of Schwarzenegger.
New is not necessarily worse. In Europe, if you come up with a new idea and ask “Why not?” you are likely to be met with 800 years of very good reasons why not. But centuries of human history add flavor and depth which is difficult to describe. Let’s just say you can tell when they’re missing.