Then there are the animated films. I have a couple of favorites. The Princess and the Frog, of course tops the list. Also tops are Finding Nemo (I just love that turtle scene) and Milan (I can relate to her as well as we both have the tendency to buck tradition). The animated movie that has me rolling on the floor with laughter is Over the Hedge. If you are an urban and regional planner, it is definitely a must see. I don’t want to give away the movie, so I’ll stick to the basics. There’s a turtle, a squirrel, two opossum, two porcupine parents and three adorable porcupine children, and a attitudinal skunk. They awake from hibernation to find the forest gone and a huge subdivision in its place. If you think they had nightmares when they saw it, I was having horrible dreams myself. It was like one of those subdivisions I used to have to approve (but really hated to) while working down in Henry County, Georgia: Zero lot lines, eight units to the acre, two entry ways to accomodate the traffic for the 300 lots, a mess of culs-de-sac, and my favorite (sarcasm) not a tree in sight. Anyway, these adorable woodland creatures are shown the ropes of navigating the suburban encroachment by a wayward raccoon. Now this movie may sound like, “whatever,” but the writing is genius as it displays the excessive human behavior through the eyes of these animals. To them, we look ridiculous. We use up too much land. We eat too much food. We drive cars that are way too big. This movie tells the truth but it’s hilarious.
There used to be a lot of animals on Hilton Head. My father told me about some of them. He told me about the cattle that used to graze in what is now a prominent subdivision. Some animals, I saw for myself. When I was my son’s age and we would visit the island, there would be several properties with that lone horse grazing in yard, including in grandparents’. Granddaddy, used to ride his horse down the street at Christmas time and the horse would perform tricks. After I moved to the island, I took the bus home from school and we would pass a couple of pigpens… A parent at one bus stop had a farm with grazing cows . We used to have this crazy bus driver who used to try to run them over if they were crossing the road when she approached (Maybe they were worth 500 points if she hit one). I remember one day in particular when the poor farmer had to push that last cow and himself, through the open gate to avoid being a part of her grille. There were the chickens when our house was first built. Before we could garage doors, there were these chickens perched on top of moving boxes, dropping feathers and …uh other stuff. There were wild animals behind our house like wild turkey, Harvey the Hare (Daddy named him), and the occasional deer. I guess the point is, and maybe this is a rhetorical question, but where did all of the animals go? Did they wake up one morning like they did on Over the Hedge to find the forest gone? Is their home now in a small grove of the remaining underbrush? Well one thing I can say for Hilton Head planners is that they don’t allow developers to clear-cut the land. They remove just enough of the trees to build the home or business. There are still plenty of old oaks, but is that enough of a home for the animals? Seeing as they cross through the backyard sometimes, I would say no. And of course the island way of life has changed so that the horses no longer graze lazily in the field. They are now at the equestrian center. I can’t remember the last time I saw a cow or pig on the island. I did see a wild turkey, only he was running down a suburban street in my home of Knoxville. I wonder if it saw past Thanksgiving because that turkey was huge.
What happened to the animals on Hilton Head is actually not funny, but a movie of them exacting revenge on humans is. So if you want to get me to laugh, pop some popcorn, get me a root beer and Peanut M&Ms, and cue up Over the Hedge for some crazy animal hijinks. You’ll be picking me up from the floor.