Topsail Island, NC – May 9, 2013
The palm tree and parking meter looked like pieces of a movie set dropped out of the sky. The tree’s plastic fronds stretched out over a trunk of coiled rope and the familiar metal meter wouldn’t look out of place next to an asphalt slab, but they stood guard on a small island of sand that disappears under high tide.
A sticker on the meter’s face claimed the spot as the Diminishing Republic Island with no further explanation. People say someone put it there to protest rising parking fees in Wrightsville Beach, but it became an odd landmark that someone has secretly maintained for years.
I looked around to compare the glinting plastic fronds to the real thing, trying to figure out what looked off about them, but I realized that I haven’t seen a palm tree for days. I’ve outraced them to the north, left them behind like the mangroves of south Florida they once replaced. Now the shore is all oaks and pines and I feel movement when I look at them.
I snapped a picture of the plastic tree with its parking meter on the shrinking island of sand. I love odd things. They jolt your mind out of complacency. They remind you to look around and actually see.