I mentioned in my 'we're buying a house' post the standards that apply to termites. They are a thing here. As in, a recognised feature of living in a house. Home owners have two choices: tent the house once a decade and have it fumigated, or have an annual inspection and spot treatment. So the sight of homes covered in tents is not unusual. Here's one on Eighth Street, near our potential new house - which was just recently treated for termites, as part of the purchase process.
I'm not sure why termites are so common here. Maybe they (like me) like the weather. I don't think New England, with its freezing cold winters, suffers them. Or maybe it's not the weather but the wood. The houses I see here under construction seem to be made primarily out of wood, not the steel frames and breeze blocks I'm used to seeing in the UK.
I'm not sure why people build houses out of wood here, either. Maybe it's to do with earthquakes. Or perhaps it's just one of those inexplicable differences which is so thoroughly woven into the fabric of the way the world works here that it takes a while to notice. And once you've noticed, you can't stop noticing. And that niggles away. Like a termite.
I wonder if there's much more like that, which after five years of transatlantic life I have yet to spot. And I wonder how long I'll live here before I stop noticing those differences.