Beautiful 4 Seasons – click any image for full size
“This region is my labour of love :D,” Inkie (inkie Loudwater) tells me as I admire the latest iteration of her Homestead region, Beautiful 4 Seasons. “I change it every season; it’s an ongoing process, so the more people enjoy it, the better it is!”
Looking around the region it’s hard to imagine it not being a staple part of people’s itineraries when exploring Second Life. It sits as a mostly low-slung island in the centre of a lake. Across the water and completely surrounding it, a patchwork quilt of fields recede towards misty, distant hills and rounded, grassy peaks. it’s not quite England’s Lake District – but it could be.
The island forms a west pointing C, a smaller island nestled within its curving arms. A tiny hamlet sits along one arm of the C, perched on a slender finger of rock facing the waterfront to the south, with rowing boats and small craft drawn in close to the single wooden pier and stone flanks of an old harbour wall. Behind the little row of buildings forming the hamlet, stone stairs offer a way down between the rocks to where wooden bridges hop from the main island over a little nub of land poking above the waters, to the smaller island, occupied by a small summer-house and partially walled garden.
Westward of the hamlet, the land drops away gently to s small circle of standing stones, an elongated henge with lintel stones still in place to connect rough-hewn columns. Eastwards, and the land curves and climbs to its highest point, a rocky shoulder to the north-east. A house shelters in its lee of the hill as the island curls northwards, looking out over the water to the smaller of the two islands. Below the house, the land slips gently downward and across a grassy tongue lapping at the water’s edge, where sits an intriguing camp site awaiting visitors.
The entire impression here is of a small, possibly private, holiday island; a place where people can escape the hassle of everyday life, sitting beyond the distant hills, and simply wander and relax. It’s a place where bikes and scooters are popular – but which is best explored on foot. It’s the kind of place where even strangers are on first-name terms within minutes of meeting, and where the entertainment, going by the makeshift outdoor theatre, is as home-made as the bead in the bakery.
There is also subtle mystery of stories awaiting visitors here. The bakery is well-stocked, the summer-house is set for dinner while the deck outside invites people to sit and have a drink; across the water; the camp site shows signs of use, and here and there, washing hangs on the lines. But where are the locals? As busy as the little island seems, the houses sit unfurnished, motor scooters sit deserted, and dogs stand and stare into the distance, as if waiting on someone’s return. Are the locals all off across the water? If so, where might they have gone for the day? Or are we, as a part of our visit, “the locals”? And if so, what might our stories be as a part of this little community?
Beautiful 4 Seasons is, in a word, charming; the kind of place I could happily holiday within; so much so that I wish I’d seen some of the earlier iterations of the region. It is, however, quite firmly penned-in to my list of regions to revisit in the future. but that’s the join of Second Life, isn’t it? The chance of discovering / hearing about new places to visit, explore and photograph.
- Beautiful 4 Seasons (Rated: Moderate)