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
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.
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
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.
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 (Yasminia, rated Moderate)