Black Forest Garden

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The Black Forest region in Baden-Württemberg was named silva nigra by the Romans due to its murky thickets and impenetrable darkness. On the bench where I’m resting in a nocturnal spa garden, the trees enclose us like a brooding cobweb silhouetted by the milky pallor of starlight. I’m on a wooden stool outside an earth sauna; this is one of Germany’s famous spa suites in the mountains … and nudity is compulsory. What started as an awkward half hour of a twenty-something fighting every impulse to be throughly British has now blissfully transformed into one moment of silence, while I contemplate and cool off. My toes are pushing into cold, wet grass and the night air swells with aromas of pine cones and burnt wood. It is inescapably dark and quiet. And it’s zero degrees. Back to the sauna…

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