A notebook for Aspen Fell in Second Life

Aspen Fell – The Notebook, July 2020 – click any image for full size

It’s been several years since we last visited Aspen Fell in Second Life. A homestead region managed by Jessica Marabana, it’s a place that periodically undergoes transformation by designer Aspen Fell to offer visitors something new to appreciate whilst exploring, in taking photographs of and in writing about. However, I have to admit my curiosity was particularly piqued in reading the latest description provided with the region’s entry in the Destination Guide:

The Notebook is inspired by the movie ‘The Notebook.’ Stroll through the streets of Seabrook, South Carolina, have a seat in the movie theatre, and feel the love Noah and Allie, through all the ups and downs, had for each other.

– from the Aspen Fell Destination Guide description, July 2020

Aspen Fell – The Notebook, July 2020

I have to confess that The Notebook is not a film with which I was familiar prior to reading those words, so I made a call to a friend (aka Netflix and a couple of hours in front of the telly) to learn more – although as I found out on making my return trip to take the photos seen here, the landing point does offer a note card with a fair synopsis of the film to incoming visitors, which I may have accidentally discarded on arriving for our exploratory wanderings.

In short, the film – itself based on the 1996 début novel by Nicholas Sparks – is a decades-spanning love story about a young man of humble origins who lives and works in Seabrook Island, South Carolina. During a night at the local carnival, he becomes smitten with a young socialite who is vacating in the town with her family. His persistence eventually wins her over – although her family doesn’t precisely approve. In part due to their objections and the interference of the woman’s mother, and in part due to America’s entry into to World War Two, the two separate and remain apart for several years until a chance sighting whilst Noah is visiting post-war Charleston brings the two indirectly back into one another orbits, and eventually leading them to renew their relationship.

Aspen Fell – The Notebook, July 2020

As simple as it sounds, the film – like the novel – is nuanced it the way it presents its story. We see the unfolding relationship of two main characters – Noah Calhoun and Allison “Allie” Hamilton – in flashback, as an elderly patient in a nursing home, referred to as “Duke”, reads their story from a journal to an elderly female patient. Through the intertwining of the modern-day storytelling and the flashbacks we discover that not only did Noah and Allie’s love eventually endure, but the the elderly man and woman are Noah and Allie, and his reading of their journals is itself a poignant act of love for her, stricken as she is with dementia.

I know you feel lost right now; but don’t worry, nothing is ever lost, nor can be lost. The body sluggish, aged, cold; the embers left from earlier fires shall duly flame again.

“Duke” / Noah Calhoun, quoting in part lines from Walt Whitman’s Continuities

Aspen Fell – The Notebook, July 2020

Within Aspen Fell, notable elements in the film in which the story of younger Allie and Noah’s relationship are played out are presented as vignettes. There is the main street of Seabrook Island itself; the carnival where they first meet; the lumber mill where Noah works; the abandoned house he shows her, which she describes once it his been restored to its former glory and which he eventually renovates in accordance with her vision in the belief it will bring her back to him.

And there is more: in the town you can dance in the rain or watch the changing traffic lights in reflection of Allie and Noah; in the carnival you can try the rides, at the house you can explore Noah’s renovations and make yourself at home, or close by, you can visit the boathouse and take a canoe out on to the water and get caught in the rain, just as they do.  Thus, as a homage, the region’s vignettes are all nicely framed and gently linked by a winding path.

Aspen Fell – The Notebook, July 2020

Just how much love for the film has been put into Aspen Fell can additionally be seen in the smaller details. For example, the movie theatre is promoting Albert S. Rogell’s 1940 version of Li’l Abner, starring Buster Keaton just as it does in the film. Elsewhere, the dilapidated house contains the old piano Allie sits at and plays (and in respect of this and the piano solos featured as a part of the film’s soundtrack, the region’s audio streams features piano solos). Look hard enough and you may even spot a copy of Allie’s journal the elder Noah reads to her to frame the story.

The introductory note card states the region is open for rezzing to allow for props, etc., but during our visits, I found this not to be the case, even with membership of the local land group. However, this isn’t really an issue; there is more than enough to see within the region, and a fair number of poses available as well.

A labour of love, a photogenic setting and – for those not familiar with the film (or the novel) – and education, Aspen Fell – The Notebook makes for yet another engaging visit.

Aspen Fell – The Notebook, July 2020

SLurl Details

A renaissance festival for MSABC in Second Life

Banner courtesy of the SL Renaissance Festival

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (MSABC) is a global signature event coordinated by the American Cancer Society aimed at raising awareness of the risks of breast cancer and in raising funds to support research into, and treatment of, the disease. Traditionally held in the latter half of the year, in 2019 MSABC raised over US $13,600 large through two main activities – Out to Shop and The Pink Power Fest / Making Strides Walk-a-Thon.

This year, MSABC is changing things up again, and in doing so, they are also hoping to show support for, and receive it from, another of Second Life’s active communities: the medieval / renaissance community.

The Second Life Renaissance Festival in support of Strides will open its doors on Friday, September 25th, 2020 and will run through until Sunday, October 4th, 2020 inclusive, and it will offer something for everyone interested in the medieval / renaissance period, or who wants to support the global work of ACS in respect of treating and curing breast cancer.

The festival will take place across four themed regions – or kingdoms, as they are being called. They will comprise:

  • Two Kingdom Shopping Regions, which will also include the Minstrel’s Corner (the entertainment stage), and will host the Best In Helm contest and the Tale Of Heroes activity, of which more below.
  • The tournaments region.
  • The Kings Court Academy region – focused on role-play – which will also feature the Traveller’s Camp, home to the event’s Gatcha and auctions (silent and one-of-a-kind).

We’d like our events to be all inclusive, so the Best In Helm contest is open to anyone wanting to take their photo in knight’s armour. Visitors to the festival will be able to vote for their favourite knight by making a donation  through the Strides kiosk alongside their chosen knight.

The Tale Of Heroes is open to anyone in Second Life who wishes to tell their story of how Strides and / or Breast Cancer has affected them, or what it means to them.

– Nuala Maracas, Renaissance Festival co-coordinator

The tournaments region will offer a range of period tournaments – jousting, archery, mêlée, mounted archery – on a daily basis throughout the festival, and these are again open to anyone who like to try their hand at any of them.

The Kings Court Academy will feature a range of period role-play classes for those interested, and offer practice grounds for those wanting to try their hand at the various tournament activities, either on their own or via a scheduled class. It will also host the Conquer Trail, a path people can take on foot or horseback, running or walking, and use slingshots or rotten tomatoes to try to strike targets; hitting a target will provide information about Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and the services it provides.

Renaissance Festival merchant’s payments area (post registration)

Currently, the festival is taking registrations from: sponsors, merchants interested in participating – although slots for both are running out! – and period role-play communities / groups. Details can be found on the festival’s website as follows:

Those who wish to help in organising the event can also visit the volunteer’s sign-up page. Note that this does not include any sign-up for stage managers, greeters, entertainers, bloggers, etc., – a call for these positions will be made in due course.

Further information on the festival will be made available through the Renaissance Festival website as it becomes available, and I hope to provide updates through these pages as well.

My thanks to Nuala Maracas for spending time with me to discuss the event.