Of seeking respite in Second Life

France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano (Flickr) – click any image to enlarge

There are times, no matter how you try, when the words you want to put into an article refuse to either run from fingers through keyboard to screen, or when on the screen, simply don’t want to order themselves in the way you’d like.

When this happens, you can really only do one of two things; wrestle with the words in the hope of getting them to submit and line-up the way you’d like – or go seek respite by doing something else entirely. For me, the latter generally involves a bath full of hot water and bubbles, music and a book (and perhaps a glass of wine on the side). Today however, I decided to find respite from my block by jumping into SL, albeit with no clear idea of where I Might go or what I might do.  Fortunately, there are plenty of places in-world to captivate us and carry us far from the roubles of the physical world – and even the worries of what to do.

France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano (Flickr)

Places like Leico Arado’s region of France Portnawak, which has recently undergone one of its regular make-overs, and has been given the theme name of Terracotta.

The last time I visited, autumn was just settling-in for a stay; now it is the turn of a balmy, semi-tropical summer evening, the sun casting a golden glow across the sky and the sea from the west, the haze in the sky all but masking shadows on the ground (see the images that top and tail this article).

The region has been crafted into a west-facing island that is intriguing in its mix of tropical and deciduous flora; groups of palms standing amidst or close to trees from more temperate climates. Scattered around the landscape, which varies from low-lying sands and grass to rocky outcrops, can be found a number of houses and outbuildings, each with its own ambience and story.

France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano (Flickr)

One of the houses sits out on the water on stilts, reached by a meandering path of stones which forms something of a breakwater. Within the rough circle formed by the stones, fishing nets awaited attendance, marsh plants float idly and long grass marches out from the shore, claiming a large part of the watery enclosure. Motor boats apparently offer a means to shuffle back and forth between the shore and the house in place of walking; but be warned – the enclosed water is bounded by a number of submerged physical invisiprims which tend to interfere with navigation.

The house on stilts appears to be the lodge of a hunter / fisherman – at least going by the wall decor. The other houses also have a particular character of their own; the one on the coast closest to the stone path, for example, suggests a woman’s touch and the presence of children. Not far from this, behind steep sand dunes, sits what might be a den used by teenagers, sitting under the metal roof of an open-sided hut.

France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano (Flickr)

Quite what the stories are to these and the other places to be found on the island is up to you as the visitor to decide – and there’s more than enough scattered around each of them to get the imagination rolling with narratives. But, if dwelling on possible stories isn’t to your mindset, there are also plenty of places to simply sit and while away the time, either on your own or with a friend, while a climb up to the highest point on the island will bring you to a rather interesting little temple.

In its latest iteration, France Portnawak offers a curious juxtaposition of looks and styles which somehow simply works, with everything flowing together to present visitors with a chance to wander, wonder and simply relax.

Which is just what I needed to do.

France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr France Portnawak, Dreamworld Volcano (Flickr)

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