Once upon a time when I was young, I dwelled inside a cocoon – not all the time, but often enough. It would slowly form, wrapping its papery shell around me, lingering there for hours. An odd feeling, not altogether uncomfortable, a kind of protective covering; but it seemed to keep me from growing, from becoming something more.
As an avatar, I’ve been feeling somewhat cocooned lately. I’m not sure why, nor have I had the leisure to give it much thought, let alone be much inworld. However, I did make one attempt to break out – and, lo, I became a butterfly, well, actually a fairy. Talk about being out of character! and yet it felt right. Perhaps the message is that I need to take more risks, to sample different ways of being, and Second Life® (SL) is a great place to do just that.
To try my wings, I began searching for a few fairy-friendly places and first found a region called Enchanted Swansong. What serenity! Just what I needed. When I switched my graphics slider from mid- to high-render, the forest became truly mystical; a dreamy haze emerged and the tranquility deepened.
The lush groundcover and cypress knees reminded me of landscapes along Florida’s wilderness rivers, where I used to cast for bass. Butterflies and fairylights are everywhere – as well as birdsong, once I turned on the region’s soundtrack, Birdsong Radio.
Although the region is not especially large, I didn’t discover this charming gazebo until my second visit, when I was able to spend more time exploring. Behind the gazebo rises a hill with rocks, ferns, and mosses; these things, along with the shape of the hillocks and small ravines, gave me pause – hmm, not Florida after all. The island could be seen as a Florida wetlands/Pacific Northwest coast hybrid – a nice combination, indeed.
Near the gazebo is an elven harp. I highly recommend playing it. There are seven selections, including “Celtic Lullaby,” “Girl with Flaxen Hair,” “Claire de Lune,” and “Greensleeves.” Kudos to Enchanted Swansong’s creator, Andrek Lowell! (To learn more about the artist, visit his website.)
Andrek Lowell is also the creator of Elven Realm, which the SL Destination Guide describes as “a magical fantasy forest dedicated to the preservation of the unicorn and all woodland fauna.” That the artist of Enchanted Swansong designed this realm too was a surprise – impressive versatility.
The atmosphere of Elven Realm is more playful than Enchanted Swansong. For instance, the little fairy who greets you on landing and these giant animated rabbits might very well appeal to your inner child.
The contrasts between such vibrantly colored objects as mushrooms and flowers and such subdued and artfully detailed structures as the small castle above and church with stained-glass windows below are stunning and yet, for me, a tad jarring, leaning as I do away from neon colors, except perhaps for an occasional splash.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed my first visit enough to return to linger longer. The second time I stumbled upon the peacock below. I saw something move in day-glo pink foliage, watched him strut out, then turn and open his tail feathers for a full display of his glory.
Elven Realm also has an art gallery called Kaleidoscope, a skydeck that features the works of 12 fantasy artists. A magic door to the gallery is one of the first things you’ll see on landing. This realm is certainly worth a look. If you’re a fairy, elf, furry, or any kind of good-spirited fantasy avatar, you’ll feel right at home here.
Now I’d like to encourage you to visit the jungle rainforest on Dark Moon and to pick up a notecard as soon as you arrive. The notecard alerts you to things to do and learn during your visit. It begins with this intriguing message: “Dark Moon has changed once again!”
While drafting this post, I grew curious about Dark Moon’s appearance before my visits. The Internet (what a marvelous thing!) took me right to the owner’s blog, “The Second Life of Nepherses Amat,” which describes the jungle and shows some of Dark Moon’s previous incarnations (now in its 7th). Here you’ll find, among much more, that Nepherses loves terraforming, is interested in earth-based spirituality, and generously gives credit to creators of objects and animations on her sim.
Dark Moon is so rich in detail that I found it impossible to capture even a glimpse of its essence in snapshots. For example, as I wandered down the river, I came across many animated creatures, like this anaconda (or is it a boa?), as well as jaguars, pizotes, alligators, egrets, toucans, Indian painted storks, and spoonbills – but my photos simply didn’t do them justice.
As the arrival notecard promises, many objects come with their own notecards that explain their significance and that often link to informative websites or YouTube videos. One of my favorite places was Meditation Cave, with its wonderfully resonant Tibetan bowls that I played while meditating on a cushion.
Another of my favorite places was the view platform that overlooks the forest and ocean. Great view, great wine, great site. (Here the region uses the windlight setting “Under a yellow moon.”) I’ll have to return sometime to read that book on the table below :^).