Saturday, February 28, 2009

Neptune Over the Horizon

[Above] Neptune Statue, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

It is an act of civic planning injustice.

A 15 foot high bronze Neptune stands silently in the stillness of off season.

He stands with his back toward the water, as if guarding the marina of one of Hilton Head's low slung anonymous gated communities. The god of the ocean seems to have been tamed, caged, and relegated to greet snowbird shoppers in search for lighthouse magnets, shot glasses, and woven Baja pullovers. Looking into his weathered eyes is much like the scene from King Kong when the giant ape is caged and displayed as an oddity. The whole story is there, told in a glance. The patina hides nothing.

Neptune can never be counted out. The god of the ocean is not a greeter of shoppers, handing out smiley faces and tagging returns. The god of the deep could never man a visitor information kiosk, instructing well fed tourists to the nearest restroom. Neptune is noted for his rage and its manifestations: storms, earthquakes, and broken mountain ranges. Sometime in the future, Neptune will harness the energy from butterfly wing crosswinds somewhere off the western Sahara. Crosswinds what will eventually organize into a rotating mass of . Gaining power from the warm waters of the Caribbean, Neptune's storm will make the turn toward the mainland United States.

All the architecture on Hilton Head seems temporary. The island has been evacuated 3 times in twenty years. I am not so sure it is the best idea to place Neptune without a view of his watery domain. I wouldn't temp fate when surrounded. Living on the edge of the Atlantic in the midst of a cyclonic superhighway, Hilton Head needs all the good luck it can muster.

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