Holzweg Thal – Art in Nature and my first tick bite

Autumn is here and with the changing of leaves my desire for some outdoor adventure before the really cold months grows stronger. It’s not that you can’t have outdoor adventures during the winter months but I especially like the time between October and mid-December for hiking because it’s not too hot and there’s the typical autumn foliage which I love. As it was the first excursion this year we decided to start it off slowly with an easy hiking trail in the nature park Thal near Balsthal in the Canton of Solothurn. It didn’t even took us a whole hour to get there by car from Zurich. The morning fog hadn’t yet lifted when we arrived but I kind of like misty forests in the early mornings.

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Can you guess what the name of this installation is? ;)

I chose this hiking trail because there’s wooden installations along the way of which some of are made to interact with and others are just to look at and ponder on. Kids may probably make the most out of it but I enjoyed it even as an adult and got excited every time I discovered a new installation. Highlight though was definitely the ruin of Neufalkenstein castle, that probably dates back to the 12th century. The installations are numbered and marked on a map which you can get for free so we made a game out of guessing the name of the respective creations which didn’t turn out to be that difficult.

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The runes on the bench say “Balsthal”

At the beginning we almost felt a little lonely all alone in that nebulous forest but eventually some other visitors would show up, that were mostly elder people and families. It’s a round trail with shortcuts and easy to walk so we crossed and said hello to the same people different times. If I had to tell you my favourite wooden sculpture or installation it would probably be the “Holzwelten”. I was taking pictures of grass blades when I changed the angle and suddenly noticed a huge round-shaped something in the blurry background. It immediately reminded me of the moon bunny in Japanese folklore.
The legend goes somewhat like that:
Many years ago, the Old Man of the Moon decided to visit the Earth. He disguised himself as a beggar and asked Fox (Kitsune), Monkey (Saru), and Rabbit (Usagi) for some food. Monkey climbed a tree and brought him some fruit. Fox went to a stream, caught a fish, and brought it back to him. But Rabbit had nothing to offer him but some grass. So he asked the beggar to build a fire. After the beggar started the fire, Rabbit jumped into it and offered himself as a meal for the beggar to eat.
Read the end of the story here: The Moon Rabbit in Legend and Culture
It’s a sad and beautiful story at the same time I think.

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The fog lifted in the afternoon and when we arrived at the ruin of Neufalkenstein castle we enjoyed sun beams and had lunch in the ruin’s garden. I’ve seriously never seen such glorious ruin and it felt so good to be there. The castle was build on top of a steep rock and has just the right size and an admirable 360° view. There’s a map which explains what the rooms and courts were used for and we learned that they had their own bakery and ale-house.

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Back in Zurich I discovered a tick on my right wrist and instinctively pulled it out with my fingers. It was actually the first time I got a tick bite and I was pretty shocked and grossed out by that little spider thing that was anchored so firmly in my skin. My parents always warned my of tick-borne diseases and so I got a very uneasy feeling later on that day. The puncture started itching and swelling and usually I wouldn’t care so much about it since my body reacts strongly to all insect bites, be it mosquitos or spiders. Ticks however scare the hell out of me and with all the Media talking about Bella Hadid’s Lyme-disease which is usually transmitted through ticks, I decided it would be best if I went to the see a doctor. The symptoms are caused by a bacterial species called Borrelia burgdorferi but unspecific so it’s difficult to distinguish the disease from a common cold and flu especially if the person affected didn’t notice any tick bite. In my case however I had seen the tick and removed it myself so I told the doctor right away what my concerns were. The best thing is to notice it right away and immediately take antibiotics to prevent the bacteria from spreading into tissues and organs where it’s hard to reach for antibiotics. The infection can cause serious health issues if untreated and so I’m on Co-amoxiclav for the next two weeks.
Please take care and check your whole body for ticks or tick bites after you went to the forest.

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